Book: The Code of the Samurai

The Code of the Samurai is a relatively short book and you can read it in about 3 hours or so. If you would like to have a crash course on how the samurai saw the world and themselves, read it.

Info

Book: The Code of the Samurai
Author: Daidouji Yuuzan, circa 16th century
Translator: A. L. Sadler
Print year: 1992 (1988)
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Company Inc, Rutland, Vermont & Tokyo

Extra info: The English translation was first published in 1941 by Kokusai Bunka Shinkokai under the title The Beginner’s Book of Bushido.

Nekomata’s thoughts on the book

This book was written as a kind of instruction manual for young warriors, so that they would know what was expected of them. The topics vary from chapter to chapter, but all of them basically emphasise bravery, loyalty and good manners. Good points, to be sure, but I hope you take any specific instructions with a pinch of salt. They are, after all, meant for people who lived about 500 years ago in a foreign culture.

The main instruction of the book is memento mori:

”One who is a Samurai must before all things keep in mind, by day and by night… the fact that he has to die.”

Oh, and also do not beat your wife and do not spend all your money on food, drink and sex.

But doesn’t approaching death make you want to spend every day as if it was your last and spend everything you have on you? Sure, but when the most important thing you can leave behind is a good name, then the fear of shame and loss of face will keep you in check.

Modern life is easy in certain ways. Today you get to choose who you want to be loyal to (if you believe in freedom of choice…). But you still can’t choose your parents. This is also an era of peace in most parts of the world, so if you miss a day or two of training at the dojo it will not cost you your life (I hope). But everything you do will still have consequences. This book will make you think about those consequences.

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