From Publishers Weekly
No tale of sword-wielding derring-do, this collection of 17th century observations and advice from the Samurai physician Ekiken (1630-1714) is drastically different from well known Samurai literature, focusing not on achieving honor in battle and death, but on life and its preservation. A well-needed reminder that the culture of the samurai extended beyond battle and war, Ekiken's 414 recommendations, largely restricted to areas of eating, drinking and improving circulation, are also practical and though-provoking (though they do tend to repeat). The workmanlike translation may not coax out any poetry from Ekiken's precise maxims, but it's both impressive and curious how well his observations on alcohol ("You should not drink on an empty stomach, either morning or night.") and tobacco ("If you become used to it, it becomes a habit...The best choice is not to smoke tobacco from the very beginning. ") agree with modern medicine. Though a few archaic head-scratchers are included (like an admonition that women shouldn't wash their hair during their period), Ekiken's advice is still heeded by practitioners of traditional medicine, and should prove inspiring for those looking for time-tested advice on treating their bodies well.
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About the Author
was a samurai physician and became known for his intellect and wide interests, which encompassed a myriad of subjects, including Confucianism, Buddhism, education, history, herbal remedies, spiritual issues, and philosophy. William Scott Wilson
is the well-known translator of many Japanese and Chinese classics, most recently Kodansha's The 36 Secret Strategies of the Martial Arts
. Kodansha's edition of Hagakure
, published in 1979, was Wilson's first translation; his other translations include The Book of Five Rings
, The Life-Giving Sword
and The Demons Sermon on the Martial Arts
. He is also the author of The Lone Samurai