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Soul of the Samurai: Modern Translations of Yagyu Munenori's "The Book of Family Traditions" & Takuan Soho's "Subtlety of Immovable Wisdom" & "Notes of the Peerless Sword" Hardcover – 31 Oct 2005

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Soul of the Samurai: Modern Translations of Yagyu Munenori's "The Book of Family Traditions" & Takuan Soho's "Subtlety of Immovable Wisdom" & "Notes of the Peerless Sword"
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  • Samurai Wisdom: Lessons from Japan's Warrior Culture: Five Classic Texts on Bushido
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  • The Code of the Samurai: A Modern Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke.: A Contemporary Translation of the Bushido Shoshinshu of Taira Shigesuke
Total price: £34.86
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing (31 Oct. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804836906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804836906
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 568,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

Modern translations of three classic works of Zen & Bushido

In Soul of the Samurai respected author and translator Thomas Cleary reveals the true essence of the Bushido code or Zen warrior teachings according to 17th-century Japanese samurai master Yagyu Munenori and his Zen teacher Takuan Soho.

The three works of Zen Bushido translated in Soul of the Samurai are:

  • The Book of the Sword by Yagyu Munenori
  • The Inscrutable Subtlety of Immovable Wisdom by Takuan Soho
  • The Peerless Sword by Takuan Soho
Yagyu was a renowned swordsman and chief of the Shogun's secret police, while Takuan was the Zen spiritual mentor to the Emperor. This samurai philosophy book contains the first English translations of their seminal writings on Bushido. Cleary not only provides clear and readable translations but comprehensive notes introducing the social, political, and organizational principles that defined Samurai culture—their loyalty to family, their sense of service and duty, and their political strategies for dealing with allies and enemies.

These writings introduce the reader to the authentic world of Zen culture and the secrets behind the Samurai's success—being "in the moment" and freeing the mind from all distractions, allowing you to react instantaneously and instinctively without thinking. In these classic works we learn that Zen mental control and meditational training were as important to the Samurai as swordsmanship and fighting skills.

About the Author

Thomas Cleary is one of the best known and most accomplished translators of the ancient wisdom of Asia. His work includes The Art of War, The book of Five rings, Code of the Samurai, Samurai Wisdom and Secrets of the Japanese Art of Warfare, as well as over 70 other books on Asian martial history and philosophy, buddhism and Taoism.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on 18 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Not only are you going to learn about the life and philosophies of one of the greatest Japanese Swordsmen who ever lived - Yagu Munenori, you also have a chance to learn about his contemporary and spiritual master Takuan Soho.

Zen Master Takuan Soho (1573-1645) was living proof of the saying, "If you are a master of Zen you can be a master of anything".

Takuan was a master of calligraphy, painting, martial arts and gardening, and the abbot of Daitokuji, the leading Rinzai Temple in Kyoto.

In this book we have an account of Takuan's life and translations of all his important writing.

Written by one of the best historians of Japanese history and especially on the Samurai, Thomas Cleary turns an otherwise dry philosophical account into an interesting and fascinating story of two of Japans leading figures in swordsmanship. Yagu Munenori lays bare the secrets of the Samurai and tells us what it takes to become an undefeated champion and still live a worthy wholesome life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W STOELMAN on 25 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Soul of the Samurai adds depth of insight and is informative. Helpful in understanding the mind and the philosophy underlying the life of the Samurai.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent format with useful commentary 6 Feb. 2013
By Timothy George Roettiger/Belgian Mare Brewery - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Soul of the Samurai" contains the translations of three classic texts: Martial Arts: The Book of Family Traditions, The Inscrutable Subtlety Of Immovable Wisdom, and Tai-A Ki: Notes on the Peerless Sword. The introduction does a good job of providing context for the translations. The books themselves are rendered in an easy reading literary style, with intra-textual commentary. Some readers may feel that this disrupts the flow of the text, but I found that the commentaries were quite helpful. The translator does a good job of placing the commentaries in locations where the modern western reader is likely to have difficulty. So rather than disrupt the text, they aid the reader's understanding and keep the flow going, rather than forcing the reader to choose between stumbling on in confusion or flipping to the back for end-notes.

Overall, I found this collection full of insightful wisdom and a joy to read.
Five Stars 19 Jun. 2015
By George S. Davison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
all ways quality
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bought this for my husband... 13 Nov. 2012
By I. Wright - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My husband is into martial arts and I thought he might enjoy this book. He likes it very much, finds it very informative.
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Soul of the Samurai Book 21 Feb. 2010
By Brita Woolums - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received this book as a present for my husband around Christmas. It not only arrived fast, but also in great shape. This book is an excellent gift for someone who loves Martial Arts.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Read after reading the Heike Monogatari 30 Oct. 2013
By Marco Buendia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Japan ripped its own bowels out in the 12th century. Read all about it in the Heike Monogatari.

For the next several hundred years, the Japanese soldier spirit lived a shade's existence. They tormented the populace and wasted the land's substance in the way ghosts, or witchcraft, when fully believed, can destroy the good ambition of the people of a country.

Here are three key texts that these people used to justify their idiot malfeasance. Imagine several thousant foul-tempered Quixotes gadding about the country, arbitrarily assaulting all and sundry, other than a few daimyo, their patrons, or the patrons of even bigger foul-tempered Quixotes (no Dulcineas here, and no Sanchos). Because they believed their legends, and everybody else believed them, or was afraid to tell them they were liars. This was Japan.

This is what warriors do. They reach a point where they are fighting a thousand imaginary wars, while they fight no real wars. Or several. And bring about idiot destruction.

This was Japan. And much of the world. When are they going to stop? When they finally kill each other, the rest of us, and the Earth off.

Read this well-translated stuff and know a little bit more about h. sapiens and his filthy delusions than you did before. But don't think for a minute that it's all aesthetics. And the respites offered by such things as Meiji, the Enlightenment, the defeats of Fascism or Jim Crow are only temporary.
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