The Book of the Samurai
The seminal treatise on the code of the samurai--now available as a Shambhala Pocket Classic.
Hagakure is a treatise on the samurai code written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, an eighteenth-century samurai. It's a guide, organized as a loose collection of thoughts, on how samurai should conduct themselves. This philosophy--bushido, or "the way of the samurai"--is, according to Tsunetomo, essentially a Way of death or dying. This embracing of death with honor and courage is the core theme of Hagakure--and part of its allure.
This edition, translated by the esteemed translator William Scott Wilson, is considered the definitive version of this classic. No other translator has so thoroughly and eruditely rendered this text into English. Wilson's introduction casts Hagakure in a different light than ever before. In Tsunetomo's time, the Way of death was a nuanced concept that related heavily to the Zen idea of the death of the ego. Wilson's introduction gives the historical and philosophical background for that more metaphorical reading of Hagakure, and through this lens, the classic takes on a fresh and nuanced appeal.
WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON is the foremost translator into English of traditional Japanese texts on samurai culture. He received BA degrees from Dartmouth College and the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, and an MA in Japanese literary studies from the University of Washington. His best-selling books include
The Book of Five Rings; The Unfettered Mind; and
The Lone Samurai, a biography of Miyamoto Musashi.