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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
     

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

4.1 29
by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, William Scott Wilson (Translator)
 

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Living and dying with bravery and honor is at the heart of Hagakure, a series of texts written by an eighteenth-century samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It is a window into the samurai mind, illuminating the concept of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), which dictated how samurai were expected to behave, conduct themselves, live, and die. While Hagakure

Overview

Living and dying with bravery and honor is at the heart of Hagakure, a series of texts written by an eighteenth-century samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It is a window into the samurai mind, illuminating the concept of bushido (the Way of the Warrior), which dictated how samurai were expected to behave, conduct themselves, live, and die. While Hagakure was for many years a secret text known only to the warrior vassals of the Nabeshima clan to which the author belonged, it later came to be recognized as a classic exposition of samurai thought.

The original Hagakure consists of over 1,300 short texts that Tsunetomo dictated to a younger samurai over a seven-year period. William Scott Wilson has selected and translated here three hundred of the most representative of those texts to create an accessible distillation of this guide for samurai. No other translator has so thoroughly and eruditely rendered this text into English.

For this edition, Wilson has added a new introduction that casts Hagakure in a different light than ever before. Tsunetomo refers to bushido as “the Way of death,” a description that has held a morbid fascination for readers over the years. But in Tsunetomo’s time, bushido was a nuanced concept that related heavily to the Zen concept of muga, the “death” of the ego. Wilson’s revised introduction gives the historical and philosophical background for that more metaphorical reading of Hagakure, and through this lens, the classic takes on a fresh and nuanced appeal.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a great book for anyone looking for a more centered way of life, or just some good advice about living.”—Sacramento Book Review
New York Review of Books
A Classic of Japanese thought...Poetic, robust...a feast of aphorisms and martial anecdotes.
Choice
Yamamoto brought together three temperaments: loyalty to his master, a literary sensibility, and the enlightenment of Zen.
East West Journal
The most influential of all samurai treatises ever written.—Prof. Ivan Morris

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590309858
Publisher:
Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
05/15/2012
Edition description:
Translatio
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
389,903
Product dimensions:
5.66(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.78(d)

What People are Saying About This

Jim Jarmusch
HAGAKURE became a kind of magical discovery for me, and ‘hidden under its leaves’ were some important gifts.

Meet the Author

William Scott Wilson is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. His best-selling translations include Hagakure and The Book of Five Rings.

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Hagakure 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This edition is almost unreadable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does anyone have trouble getting this book to open on their nook?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This bookie wee no work on me nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Sean Michael Wilson uses the story line of a young apprentice who seeks to learn the Bushido spirit and the way of the samurai. Each lesson of the samurai code in "Hagakure" resonates, and Sean Wilson balances the romantic vision of the life of a samurai warrior with such shocking samurai practices as teaching a 5-year-old apprentice how to kill by practicing on puppies. "Hagakure" is superbly illustrated by Chie Kutsuwada. The lines and shading exude an artistic grace, while the graphic images of gore and spurting blood reveal the stark and brutal code of the samurai. Her images also evoke an ironic humor, such as the chapter on a cuckold samurai who contemplates his revenge while sitting by a pond populated by a pair of frisky fornicating frogs. "Hagakure" -- with its captivating storytelling and imagery -- offers readers a wonderful initiation to the evolving genre of English manga." - Kris Kosaka, Japan Times "Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai (The Manga Edition) is a worthwhile read. The interpretation seems honest and unconcerned with conforming itself and its idealism to the expectations of the modern day. It is, however, important to distinguish between drawing and storytelling. The drawing of the manga, while it has impressive moments, fails to give testament to the inner workings of the characters. The storytelling does succeed in creating a pace that is contemplative yet engaging, and that fills in the gaps left by the drawing. The intention of this manga was to use a modern storytelling medium to help the reader connect and empathize with a people and a tradition of the past. When all is said and done, and the dust clears, this Hagakure accomplishes its intention." - Chris Jamison, Washington Independent review of Books "It is no small irony that in the 21st century, Hagakure is now circulated freely in the form of this new manga edition and has come to define orthodox samurai ideals for so many readers.' - Paul Schalow Washington Independent review of Books I actually asked one of my students to read it and he came back very excited about it. He gave a glowing recommendation and told me to read it too." - Anna M, Librarian.
Felonious More than 1 year ago
Hagakure: Book of the Samurai was written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a samurai who lived from 1659-1719. The version that I read was translated by William Scott Wilson. The book was written in short thoughts and anecdotes, this combination gives the reader a look into not only the mind of the samurai but it also helps the reader understand the times and the culture of the samurai. As one would expect there are many thoughts and stories about what death and honor meant to the samurai. But it also covers some less expected subjects, such as education, religion, compassion, politeness, and even thoughts on homosexuality (seemed that sexuality wasn't nearly as important as duty). There are many things in the book for the reader to think about and several may be a bit difficult for people of modern times to understand, like the fact that by the age of 15 a samurai was expected to go to where the condemned prisoners are kept and practice decapitation. Or committing ritual suicide to follow their retainer into the afterlife. One of the things that really made me stop and think; loyalty equals sincerity. Even though there are things that might be difficult for people of today to relate to there are several thoughts that people of today would be all the better if they incorporated into their lives. Yamamoto Tsunetomo tells his thoughts on the younger samurais of his day compared to the older samurai of just 50 yrs before and the story reminded me that the more things change the more they stay the same. I can't remember his exact words, so I'll paraphrase: “Damn kids today have no respect or idea of how things should be done” (and yes I even pictured him shaking his fist in the air as he said it). Overall I enjoyed the book and it did give me a lot to think about and a better understanding of a people. Highly recommend Hagakure to anyone interested in samurai, the people or the philosophy.
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Great time reading this book. It was time well spent .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Live by this.
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Cool
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You get to the 4th page and all ready start looking at things different awesome book
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