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Paperback Bushido : The Way of the Samurai Book

ISBN: 0757000266

ISBN13: 9780757000263

Bushido : The Way of the Samurai

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Book Overview

In eighteenth-century Japan, Tsunetomo Yamamoto created the Hagakure, a document that served as the basis for samurai warrior behavior. Its guiding principles greatly influenced the Japanese ruling class and shaped the underlying character of the Japanese psyche, from businessmen to soldiers. Bushido is the first English translation of this work. It provides a powerful message aimed at the mind and spirit of the samurai warrior. With Bushido, one...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Hagakure

I've read various versions of "Hagakure", and this one is my favorite. Very philosophical and inspirational, delves into the mindset of one whose only dedication is to serving one's master and way, in everyday life, and into one's chosen path, the battlefield.

Creating Super-men...

The Hagakure was dictated by Yamamoto and later scribed verbatim by Tsuramoto Tashiro over a period of seven years (1710-1716) in which they lived together in a far off mountain retreat in Japan. Tashiro was sworn to secrecy over the texts contents because the author believed the teachings to be far too radical and too militaristic for the then peaceful times during the Shogunate Rule (1603-1867). During this time of unusual calmness, the teachings of Buddhism and the ethical codes of Confucius permeated Japan, enriching every aspect of her culture from arts to politics. But the old Samurai, Yamamoto, believed (though acknowledging the Buddha and the tenets of Confucius) that the Samurai, as a class, had become effeminate and weak. Yamamoto's basic premise was that the Samurai could not serve two masters (religion and the Clan) and by doing so had become less effective. The service of the lord and the clan should come first, and once this was done, one could then amuse oneself with the studies of the humanities. In writing the Hagakura, Yamamoto hoped that someday the Samurai would return to the purity of its strong and compassionate past. More than this, however, he wanted to create a class of super-men. As Tanaka explains in his historical overview:"In his (Yamamoto) talks, he wanted every Samurai to become a super-man. But he wanted super-men who were capable of gaining great power, not for their own self-interest, but for the interest of the clan. He wanted super-men who were capable of operating effectively for the solidarity of the clan." (xv)This is the key to the power and longevity of the way of the Samurai, and that is its notion of devout loyalty to the Lord of the Clan and the Clan itself. All other concerns in life are simply deemed irrelevant. Moreover, that other essential dictum, do your duty to your parents. And lastly, but most importantly, ensuring compassion for all sentient beings and the devout service of others. By devoting oneself to these vows of allegiance and practicing them, Yamamoto believed the Samurai would attain super-man status.This particular translation is divided into eleven books, covering personal, social and philosophical advice from How to Excel Above Others, How to Conduct Yourself, Spiritual Vigour and Conceal Your Wisdom. These titles really speak for themselves.This is an excellent text to prime oneself on the foundational tenets of the way of the Samurai and a good introduction to the history of Japanese culture and thought in terms of social discourse and philosophical perspective.

Interesting

I bought this book after seeing the movie "Ghost Dog - Way of the Samurai". I didn't really know what to expect, but the book has some very interesting aspects on life and ways to live, that still work extremely well in todays society. I have at many times found myself in situations described in the book and even though some answers might be a bit hard to understand, the book has given me answers, or perhaps ways to answer/respond, in different situations. It's not really a book you read from cover to cover, but pick up and read a couple of "rules" every now and then, which after a while are in the back of your head, ready for use.I highly reccommend this book to pretty much every one.

Reveals the essence of Samurai thought.

HAGAKURE: The Book of the Samurai is a very interesting book which describes the everyday life and mindset of a samurai. For those that are not interested in the Samurai thought, this book may appear rather dry and in some instances, absurd. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The book is made up of short entries of various topics. Whether it's describing a wise samurai's actions, or cracking jokes at the noblemen around him, it is obvious that Yamamoto Tsunetomo was truly a samurai in every aspect of his life. During Yamamoto's time, the prestige of the samurai was declining, due to a long period of peace in Japan. The samurai lived to die for his lord in battle, but how can one remain a noble samurai during times of peace? Yamamoto answers this and many other questions in Hagakure. He also points out that when one is focused on dying, he will not be afraid in the presence of death. As Yamamoto liked to say, "The way of the Samurai is found in death."

A historical, anecdotal glimpse into the Bushido mind.

Whether you find HAGAKURE of interest depends on your approach to the book. Although this is not a book of sword technique, it is much like a traditional sword master, teaching only what the student is open enough to know, and teaching on many levels. On one level, it is a book of eyewitness accounts and stories from the decline of the Samurai era. Tsunetomo has a gift for storytelling, and for slipping in little details that might be of use to the aspiring Bushi. For example, do you know the quickest, easiest way to remove a dead enemies' face from his skull? He also gossips in an entertaining way about the lives of various local notables. It is as if you are having dinner with a slighly cynical, retired Samurai, the saki is passed around, and he begins talking freely. On another level the book adresses the questions of loyalty, honor, and the meaning of life. It celebrates virtue and valor, while avoiding the sugarcoating that such subjects get in the west. Anyone who faces dangers and obstacles in their day to day walk will find this little book strangely supportive. In this age where loyalty has a price, and commitment is a meaningless word, the savage beauty and strange purity of the Bushi mind, as revealed by Tsunetomo, can strengthen the heart, and recharge the mind. IF YOU LIKE HAGAKURE, you should read: THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS, Miamoto Mushashi THE UNFETTERED MIND, Takuan Soho ACTS OF WORSHIP, Yukio Mishima
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