the samurai and bushido: The best books

samurai literature. Recommendations. top 5

  • samurai spirits art

    Without direction, a person’s life is dull, an empty shell. Becoming a person of integrity and giving your life new meaning requires a spiritual foundation that continuously generates energy. Comprehending Bushi-Do does exactly this, for it is a wise and potent philosophy capable of transforming a person’s life from chaotic to brilliantly purposeful. People change radically, becoming organized, strong, and energetic. They improve physically and morally, bolstering their health and intellect.

    As is the case with all nations, Japan has a bloody history.
    The paradox with Japan is that the samurai, as a class, took power during the Tokugawa shogunate and, remarkably, secured an unprecedented peace lasting almost two and a half centuries. Furthermore, despite the fact that the neighboring countries were militarily weak, the samurai did not wage expansionist wars. Bushi-Do was therefore fully developed in times of peace, becoming the unique doctrine of a warrior who was equally well-informed, powerful, and peaceful. That is precisely why studying Bushi-Do is so interesting, and it just may be the moral system modern society needs to become better.
    In this endeavor, a warrior must follow the laws of goodness, love, and mercy, but, if needed, will pick up his sword against evil.

    The books below will give you priceless insight into how to become wise, strong, courageous, and disciplined. Many of these books are ancient works written by actual samurai and martial arts masters.

  • The Samurai book series - A. R. Basov

    best samurai bushido books

    “Bushi-Do is indeed a mighty source of strength. Those who comprehend it acquire consistency of spirit, as well as an uncluttered, active, and tranquil mind. If this is what you seek, these books are for you. There are numerous books about the Samurai, most of which simply regurgitate facts. The worthier books are analytical. The most valuable ones let readers draw their own conclusions.
    I have spent years reviewing every word in these books in an effort to bring it to the level where it not only exists but is alive, generating energy. While writing, I called upon the Spirit of the Samurai and felt joyful when I felt its fire kindle in my mind. These books are the fruit of deep reflection and purification. My friends say the books ‘work’ for them. I hope my modest efforts will make a difference in your life too.”
    — A. R. Basov

    The Samurai book series is an extensive study of Bushi-Do, the code of honor developed by the samurai; the most authoritative sources, first-hand accounts in the warriors’ own words, form its foundation. The books describe the historical evolution and philosophy of the Japanese Warrior in great detail. Profound aphorisms about outstanding samurai illuminate their philosophy as a timeless legacy encompassing the Great Creed (the overall Bushi-Do philosophy) and the Minor Creed (practical advice for everyday life). Thoughts, maxims, and reflections on Bushi-Do are organized sequentially, and additional focus is placed on key elements of the Samurai Teaching.

    There are two books in the series currently available in English:
    Samurai: Ascension (Volume I)
    Samurai: Spirit of the Warrior (Volume II)

    Bushi-Do is predominantly the practice of mind mastery. If you meditate on the ideas presented here, over time the mighty Bushi-Do energy will start moving through you. However, only primitive knowledge comes easily. To understand more sophisticated concepts, you should disassemble them and analyzed them piece by piece. But a teaching is like a flower: alive, growing. It cannot be understood only logically. As such, Bushi-Do will always be the teaching of the elect.

    “Flowers spring from the ground, but their imperishable beauty comes from another world. A person who has seen beautiful flowers hidden in the leaves finds secret love.
    Bushi-do is the Way for few,
    The way for the strong and the brave!”
    — A. R. Basov

  • The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi

     Miyamoto Musashi best samurai bushido books

    “With your spirit open and unconstricted, look at things from a high point of view. You must cultivate your wisdom and spirit. Polish your wisdom: learn public justice, distinguish between good and evil, study the Ways of different arts one by one. When you cannot be deceived by men you will have realized the wisdom of strategy.
    The wisdom of strategy is different from other things. On the battlefield, even when you are hard-pressed, you should ceaselessly research the principles of strategy so that you can develop a steady spirit. ”

    — Miyamoto Musashi

    This piece of writing by famed samurai Musashi (1584–1645) is the single-most influential work on samurai swordsmanship, offering insights into samurai history, the Zen Buddhist state of “no-mind” that enables warriors to triumph and the philosophical meaning of Bushido – “the way of the warrior.”


  • Miyamoto Musashi: Meditation. Buy a print or painting | All Art

  • A Hereditary Book on the Art of War - Yagyu Munenori

    yagyu munenori best samurai bushido books

    It is bias to think that the art of war is just for killing people. It is not to kill people, it is to kill evil. It is a strategem to give life to many people by killing the evil of one person.
    — Yagyu Munenori

    Heiho Kadensho is a Japanese text on the theory and practice of swordsmanship and strategy, written by the samurai Yagyū Munenori in 1632. Alongside Miyamoto Musashi's The Book of Five Rings, it is one of the preeminent treatises on warfare in classical Japanese literature. Similar to Musashi's contemporary work, Munenori's has garnered appeal for its applicability beyond the warrior paradigm. The book is divided into three chapters.“The Killing Sword”, addresses force as a remedy to disorder and violence. The following “Life-Giving Sword” considers the role of prevention in conflict. Finally, in “No Sword” the merits of using the environment's resources to one's fullest advantage are explored.


  • Miyamoto Musashi: A Perfect Cut. Buy a print or painting | All Art

  • Bushido (the code of the samurai) - Daidoji Yuzan

     best samurai bushido books

    “Following the Way of the Warrior means nothing else than bringing your inner self in accord with the Way and abiding by the Law in the daily life. To bring your mind in accord with the Way means to understand the righteousness and consistency of Bushido and never yield to injustice and evil.”
    – Daidōji Yūzan
    Upholding the samurai code both on and off the battlefield is one of the essential tenets of bushidō, the Way of the Warrior—and Budōshoshinshu is a definitive treatise on living in accordance with the samurai code. When it comes to books on samurai philosophy, the Edo-period classic Hagakure is iconic to contemporary readers, but Budōshoshinshu, which was written during same period, was equally influential at the time. Many scholars consider Hagakure, which was influenced by Zen, to be the most radical and romantic of samurai texts, while Budōshoshinshu is more measured and practical, owing to its heavy Confucian influence. Taken in tandem, they provide a range of insights on the role of the individual within the samurai order—both addressing the warrior’s role in times of peace and emphasizing the importance of living selflessly.

    Written by Daidoji Yūzan, a Confucian scholar who descended from a long line of prominent warriors, Budōshoshinshu comprises 56 pithy instructive essays for young samurai on how to live morally, with professional integrity and a higher purpose, and to carry on the true chivalrous tradition of bushidō. Budōshoshinshu is imbued with classic Confucian philosophy, centered on living one’s life with sincerity and loyalty.


  • Zen and the Sword. Buy a print or painting | All Art

  • Hagakure (Hidden by the leaves) - Yamamoto tsunetomo

    hagakure best samurai bushido books

    “Bushido tends to stir people’s imaginations. The term is synonymous on the one hand with strength, masculinity, fearlessness, honor, and transcendence, and on the other, callousness and coldhearted brutality. The most visible vestige of samurai culture in the modern age is budo, that is, the Japanese traditional martial arts, and these are indisputably Japan’s most successful cultural exports, with literally tens of millions of enthusiasts around the world. People practice these arts not only as a means of self-defense or as competitive sports, but also in the pursuit of spiritual development.”
    — Alexander Bennett

    The Hagakure is one of the most influential of all Japanese texts – written nearly 300 years ago by Yamamoto Tsunetomo to summarize the very essence of the Japanese Samurai bushido (“warrior.”) spirit. Its influence has been felt throughout the world, and yet its existence is scarcely known to many Westerners. This is the first translation to include the complete first two books of the Hagakure and the most reliable and authentic passages contained within the third book; all other English translations published previously have been fragmentary and incomplete.


  • Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Buy a print or painting | All Art

  • the way of the samurai (Hagakure Nyumon) - Yukio Mishima

    Hagakure Nyumon


    A samurai is a total human being, whereas a man who is completely absorbed in his technical skill has degenerated into a ‘function’, one cog in a machine.
    —Yukio Mishima

    Yukio Mishima's commentary on Hagakure and the importance of dignity, bravery and other bushido virtues. How to live according to the moral principles of the samurai?
    In the Hagakure, the most important influence on his life – and his death – Mishima saw striking similarities between his criticisms of materialistic post-war Japan and Yamamoto's criticisms of the sumptuous decadence of his contemporaries; and it is this emphasis which gives it its immediacy.


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