How much do I want to read more? 6/10

Short stories from the samurai time and ancient wisdom to ponder.
I didn't get too excited so far, but I'll continue reading on.


literally “the Way of the warrior.” “Bushi” is the common Japanese word denoting warriors in academic circles, although “samurai” is probably better known in the West. Nowadays, both terms are used interchangeably; however, the word samurai is used most frequently in this book.

Book 1


The Way of the warrior (bushido) is to be found in dying.

To declare that dying without aiming for the right purpose is nothing more than a “dog’s death” is the timid and shallow way of Kamigata warriors.

If you miss the mark and you live to tell the tale, then you are a coward.
If you make a mistake and die in the process, you may be thought of as mad (kichigai), but it will not bring shame.

Rehearse your death every morning and night. Only when you constantly live as though already a corpse (jōjū shinimi) will you be able to find freedom in the martial Way, and fulfill your duties without fault throughout your life.


A man in service (hōkōnin) needs only to place his lord at the center of his heart. Nothing is more desirable than this.

Relying only on cleverness and talents [devoid of single-minded devotion] is a lower form of service.


Although there is considerable disparity in natural talent between men, by discarding one’s own predispositions and carefully contemplating the “Four Oaths” (shiseigan)37 tremendous wisdom will emanate from within.

Therefore, if one seeks to resolve a problem, let it sit for a while, take time to think about the “Four Oaths” and subdue any self-centered thoughts, and then you will be able to proceed without faltering.


As actions are typically based on one’s own limited intelligence, selfish desires transpire and men inadvertently turn their backs on the Heavenly Way (tendō), resulting in wickedness.

Others will view this as repugnant, weak, constricted, or lax. When it is difficult to invoke true wisdom unimpeded by selfish motivations, consult a man with insight.
He will be able to offer selfless and candid advice as the matter is of no concern to him personally, and he will thus be able make rational judgments.
It is akin to an enormous tree with many roots; by contrast, the self-centered wisdom of one man is like a small tree precariously placed in the ground.


We can tap into knowledge that serves to steer us away from egotism by studying the aphorisms and deeds of the ancients.


Throughout his life, Yamasaki Kurando47 refused to accept any cast-off paraphernalia from his lord. Nor did he once visit the abodes of [well to do] townsmen. This is precisely the modest attitude expected of a retainer. On no occasion did Ishii Kurōuemon48 use any secondhand equipment, either. These days, people show a disturbingly selfish tendency to try and outdo others in acquiring used trappings. They make uninvited visits to townspeople, imposing on their hospitality, and then take pleasure in purchasing frivolities off merchants on the pretense of inspecting the marketplace. Such licentious behavior makes a mockery of the code of the samurai.


In offering one’s opinion, one must first ascertain whether or not the recipient is in the right frame of mind to receive counsel. Strive to become a trusted colleague, and ensure that he has faith in your words. Start by broaching matters that he is interested in, and devise various ways of making your thoughts known. Decide on an appropriate time, and whether you should express your ideas in writing, or talk to him on the way home. Mention your own failures, and try to evoke his understanding indirectly. Or, while complimenting his finer attributes, present your views in such a way that he will happily take your advice to correct his shortfalls, just as a man with a dry throat reaches for water to quench his thirst.

To achieve this is very challenging. If a bad habit has become ingrained over many years, it cannot be remedied easily. I have also had experience with this. Being convivial and cooperating with one’s companions to rectify each other’s inadequacies to be of better use to the lord is what constitutes genuinely compassionate service. Remember though, how can you expect a man to become a better person just through humiliating him?