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Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai Paperback – March 15, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA (March 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770011067
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770011060
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 4.3 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A Classic of Japanese thought….Poetic, robust…a feast of aphorisms and martial anecdotes." -- New York Review of Books

"A fascinating glimpse into another place and time." -- Library Journal

"A guidebook and inspiration for ... anyone interested in achieving a courageous and transcendent understanding of life." -- East West Journal

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

"The most influential of all samurai treatises ever written. " -- Prof. Ivan Morris

"Yamamoto brought together three temperaments: loyalty to his master, a literary sensibility, and the enlightenment of Zen." -- Choice --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

This book will help define the way you honorably approach life.
Don Larsen
Highly recommend Hagakure to anyone interested in samurai, the people or the philosophy.
R. Shaffer
Hagakure offers an introduction to the much revered Samurai code of Bushido.
D. Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

205 of 211 people found the following review helpful By ADM on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book features sayings and anecdotes from an aging Samurai who died around 1700.
It is a quick and entertaining read, and offers great perspective both on the individual who wrote it, and on the general theory of being a samurai.
There is an obvious sense of loss in many of the passages which comment on how things in contemporary society (of the 1700s) are so different from years past. This book, intentionally or not, captures the spirit of those older days, and serves both as a manual for younger samurai, and as a historical document for people who are interested in "The Way of the Samurai" today.
In his excellent introduction, the translator makes the very relevant point that this book is not a rigorous philosophical treatise, at least not in the way that Western scholars would define it. Instead, it is a collection of stories and phrases about a certain way of living. It doesn't hold up to scientific cross-examination (the author contradicts himself frequently), but it shouldn't have to. Yamamoto gives the impression that if faced with a philosophical attack on his "way", he would shrug his shoulders and say, "Yes, but that doesn't change a thing." In other words, his examples and aphorisms speak for themselves, and are not meant to either exclude other points of view or force others into conformity. Yamamoto even states that the Way he advocates is specific to his region of Japan -- samurai of neighboring regions are free to develop their own Ways.
The passages in the book usually focus on one of two topics: bravery, or etiquette. Yamamoto offers a lot of advice on charging into battle, seeking revenge, executing others, etc.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1997
Format: Paperback
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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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
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."
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By D. Hunter on April 6, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hagakure is a guide to the proper roll of a samurai during feudal times. Things such as expected behaviour, dying with honor, obeying one's lord, etc...
For today's reader, this book offers several tips on the proper mindset when in combat from a samurai's point of view. Still, Some of these rules are, to say the least, a little strange.
For a serious martial arts student, this book will probably find a place on your bookshelf (if it hasn't already). However, if you saw the movie "Ghost Dog" and were expecting a book of straight warrior-wisdom, you may wish to consider the fact this book has a lot of Japanese history in it. Some of Hagakure's content is a little dry, and although it offers profound insight in some places, it can be a bit hard to sort out what is useful in today's world.
Hagakure is also not put together in an user-friendly format. You have to search for specific quotes, because there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to it's layout. This can be tough when you want to go back and review how something was phrased to better understand it.
Still, this book is well worth the time and money. I have read it several times, and I'll probably read it several more...
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