Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645) is the most revered and celebrated swordsman in Japanese history; unfortunately, our modern portrait of this folk hero is derived mainly from popular books, comics, and film, with little heed paid to the early records by men who knew Musashi, practiced with Musashi, and went into battle with Musashi.
Spanning a period of more than a decade, the author set out to translate all surviving records on Musashi. The result is a body of text comprising some 150,000 words, mostly written during Japan's feudal era. They range from original accounts of duels, battles, and sieges, local histories and topographies, down to personal correspondence, clan records, family lineages, and roll calls. The fruit of that labor of love, the groundbreaking three-part The Real Musashi series makes available to the English reader virtually all of the extant early historical material relevant to the life of this enigmatic and solitary swordsman. All texts are accompanied by extensive notes that help to clarify and put them in perspective.
Part II, the Bukoden, is one of the earliest such records still in existence. It was completed in 1755 by Toyoda Masanaga, senior retainer to the Nagaoka, a clan closely involved in the events of Musashi's later life. The Bukoden throws a new and refreshing light on many aspects of especially Musashi's later life--his adoption of Iori, his return to Kyushu in 1634, and of course the gestation of his great work on the philosophy and art of Japanese swordsmanship, the Book of Five Rings. Now, for the first time in two-and-a-half centuries, Masanaga's insight into this enigmatic and solitary swordsman is available to the English reader.
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