Saturday, December 5, 2015

Review: Bushido: The Soul of Japan

Bushido: The Soul of Japan. A Classic Essay on Samurai EthicsBushido: The Soul of Japan. A Classic Essay on Samurai Ethics by Inazo Nitobe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are times when Bushido: The Soul of Japan is almost poetic. But I think that's more the subject matter rather than the actual writing, since the actual writing verges on being pedantic at times. Seriously, I had to read certain lines three or four times just to get the gist of what he was saying, which felt totally unnecessary. Mr. Nitobe was a man who must have loved to hear himself talk. But I guess that's just how people wrote back in 1900, which is when the book was published. Predating both World Wars, the idea and conscience of Bushido probably seemed much more alive back then that it does today. Still, this acts as a sort of winsome time capsule of the better times. It also acts as a nice companion to any of the James Clavell samurai novels, which I'm sure Clavell pulled a great deal from this book.

But there is a bit of a discrepancy in that the author was a devout Christian, and some of the beliefs of Shintoism don't align with that of the author's, so it doesn't feel as entirely authentic as it might have. Even so, there are certain aspects of this, like the talk of seppuku and the sword that are fascinating, and others not so much. It's a relatively short book with a lot of depth. All in all, it was okay.

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