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Ideals of the Samurai: Writings of Japanese Warriors (History & Philosophy Series) Paperback – 1 Aug 1982

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Black Belt Communications (1 Aug. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897500814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897500814
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 910,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Translated and introduced by accomplished Japanese language and literature scholar William Scott Wilson, this anthology compiles the writings of 12 samurai warriors and paints a cultural picture of feudal Japan between the 13th and 17th centuries. Each warrior's text is preceded by a brief summary of his life and career. What emerges from this collection is a picture of the samurai class that not only acknowledges a man's behavior on the battlefield but also surprises with its depth and humanity.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By K. Dawson on 15 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
Like most western males that grew up with "Shogun", "The Seven Samurai" and the "47 Ronin" I have a fascination with tales of Feudal Japan - it's samurai and their warrior code in particular and so I ventured to buy a serious book on the subject.
The author first starts by exploring the origin of the term "warrior" and reveals that the term "bushi" that entered the Japanese vocabulary as early as 797AD indicates:
"a man who has the ability to keep the peace, either by literary or military means"
Hence, the samurai were men of peace (literature) and war and equal emphasis was placed upon these skills.
The rest of the book looks at a sampling of precepts or articles (regulations) that clan lords sought to leave as a legacy of honour, humility and duty to their heirs and successors. Combined with Confucionism, Buddhism and Shinto influences these precepts, written in varying, but very readable styles really give an insight into how a samurai was expected to conduct their life.
I readily recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is exactly what I expected it to be. So packed with wisdom, and so deep I cannot express. These warriors knew something that we've forgot for generations.

My attention was first taken, when my whole family and me were in difficult situation. I felt really terrible those days. Then I heard the phrase "In this world of uncertainty, ours should be a path of discipline.".

I realised that japanese people at warring states period probably knew much more of how deal with the world and themselves better than anyone else. As they exposed to death day to day, for generations, only best survived and thrived. And I tell you they are as strong and wise, as a man can be!
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16 of 36 people found the following review helpful By P. I. Daverson on 5 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
"The ideals of the samurai" first came to my attention whilst watching Jim Jarmusch's film "ghost dog",wherein the main character lives his life according to this book,this fascinated me ,so I bought it!,I have not been disapointed as it shows the reader how advanced these ancient warriors were intellectually and morally(mostly).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Twelve Unique Old Translated Writings on Bushido 2 Mar. 2003
By C. J. Hardman - Published on
Format: Paperback
Translator William Scott Wilson offers us something unique with this book, first published in 1982 by Ohara. I can't recall any other source which includes this many specific writings on bushido (the warrior-gentleman's path)--there are 12 documents in this book, all written by different members of the warrior classes, dating from the 13th century (Hojo Shigetoki's "Message of Master Gokurakuji") to the 17th century (Kuroda Nagamasa's "Notes on Regulations").
These writings aren't what many of us 21st century martial artists have been conditioned to expect. I found more homespun advice and common sense relative to the era these men lived in than the stereotypical talk of honor and giri (duty). Much of this advice is still sound today. An example taken from the 700+ year old "Message of Master Gokurakuji" by Hojo Shigatoki:
"One should not talk about the faults of others, even as a joke. For even though one may think of it as a joke, to others it may be embarrassing, and this is a bad mistake. If one would joke, he should joke about things that are pleasurable to others. One should have restraint and deep sympathy in all things" (page 42-43)
Throughout the course of Wilson's translation, it is clear to see that the Samurai (serving warriors) were a people to whom consideration of others, polite manners and conduct were important. This volume offers a nice change from the linear austerity of the "Hagakure", which for many years along with Musashi's "Book of Five Spheres" has been one of the only widely available books which set the tone for how we modern day folks think of Samurai. In "Ideals of the Samurai", not only are many of the writings centuries apart, but they are from different families and different geographical areas of Japan. If you're curious about how the "old heads" ~really~ lived and what they thought about, this work is a must.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Arguably My Favorite Collection of Warrior Philosophy 4 Jun. 2009
By Ronin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By some fortuitous chance I stumbled upon this book when it was first released and have since devoured it over a dozen times, and it keeps getting better and the meanings continue to evolve. This is a collection of timeless works by some of the most brilliant military minds produced by the Samurai during the height of their glory (1198 to 1623).

Some of the works are martial regulations laid down by a lord to govern his retainers, some are last words passed from a father to his son at death, and others are simply philosophical works that deal with character, strategy and tactics, and the tenants of Bushido. There is even a rare english translation of the military genius Takeda Shingen of Kai. I am also a big fan of Kato Kiyomasa who was not only a great general, but one of the master castle architects including Kumamoto-jo, perhaps my favorite in Japan.

This book is truly one of the greats. It is a window into the minds of brilliant men. The concepts are applicable to martial awareness, business, and just life in general. If there is one underlying theme prevailing throughout all the pieces, it is simply to hold yourself to a higher standard. I couldn't possibly recommend this book enough.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Read the translations and make your own interpretations 17 Feb. 2002
By K. Orrson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unlike the many books on bushido I have bought, this is a collection of short writings translated with no interpretation, other than an introduction. There are no great descriptions of great battles fought. The passages tend toward the more mundane business of being a feudal lord. Several are 'last statements' which gives you insight as to what the Samurai really wanted to be remembered for. And you will remember the quotable word bites. There are several B&W reproductions of paintings of the authors.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Great Addition to the Bushido Library 21 Oct. 2008
By Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D. - Published on
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book. If you are at all interested in the Samurai, wisdom literature, or the warrior lifestyle, you will love this book. It contains teachings from 1198 - 1623 which give insight to how the samurai lived their lives and a look into the ideals which they lived by. My copy is highlighted throughout, as I found the wisdom in these teachings irresistible. This book is well written and easy to read.

If you are into martial arts, Japanese/samurai history and philosophy, or the warrior lifestyle, get this book. You will get a lot out of it. I highly recommend this book. If you read the Ideals of the Samurai, along with Modern Bushido: Living a Life of Excellence and Training the Samurai Mind: A Bushido Sourcebook, you should have a good grasp on the ideals and character that makeup the true warrior. These books will give you many ideals to integrate into your own life. Check it out!!

Bohdi Sanders, author of Martial Arts Wisdom: Quotes, Maxims, and Stories for Martial Artists and Warriors
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Ideals of the Samurai Review 17 Dec. 2009
By Samuel G. Tompkins - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book "Ideals of the Samurai" by: William Scott Wilson is an amazing book about the life and philosophies of the Samurai warrior. Though if you're not into Samurai's and their life style this book may not be for you, but if you want to get into Samurai's this is a great book to see how they lived and died instead of how horrible it is to die in battle.

Some of the great points in this book is the ideas on life that Samurai have. It's ironic because people perceive Samurai's as being ones who take life, but this book shows the side that people need to see. It shows us how they view and live life and how valued it is to who they are and how they came up as a child. The very details are amazing all on its own along with some of the Samurai's writing. This book will suck you in to a culture that has either been long forgotten or disregarded for not being an influence on America and all warriors everywhere.

However if you don't like Japanese or Samurai culture then this is not a book for you to get. If you have an assignment about Japanese or Samurai culture then this an amazing book for your assignment and will give you things that most books on Samurai's probably will not have. If however, you want to read something interesting then this book would be a great book for your collection and will most definitely grab your interest and keep it there. This book is not for people who like to read over a paragraph once and go on, parts in this book will make re-read if you want to understand what it's talking about.

A really great thing about this book is the quotes, writings, and the fact they give you the symbols of things in Japanese. They give you actual names of Japanese Samurai's and different types of groups, ideals, religions, etc. (example: Shido is a less radical theory than bushido). The book even has tales of Samurai's who have done amazing things, heroic things and things off of natural instinct they have developed as being a dedicated warrior, a good tale from the book "The warrior named Minamoto no Yorinobu", I will not go into detail about the tale because you must pick up the book and read it. This book will make you thing and re-evaluate your life after you read some of things in here.

In conclusion, this book is worth the money and is worth getting and adding to your personal library. However like I have said if you do not like this kind of thing, do not pick it up. This book has all aspects of the Samurai warrior and more. I do not recommend this book for those who do not like complicated things and enjoy an easy read. I do recommend this book for people who enjoy the arts and ideals of another culture. This an amazing book.
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