According to what one of the elders said,
taking an enemy on the battlefield,
is like a hawk taking a bird…
even though it enters into the midst of a thousand of them,
it gives no attention to any bird other than the one it has first marked.


When one has made a decision to kill a person,
even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead,
it will not do to think about going at it in a long, round about way.
The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy
and it is better to dash in headlong.


There is something to be learned from a rainstorm.
When meeting with a sudden shower you try not to get wet
and run quickly along the road,
by doing such things as passing under the eves of houses,
you still get wet.
When you are resolved from the beginning,
you will not be perplexed,
though you will still get the same soaking.
this understanding extends to all.


Our bodies are given life from the midst of nothingness
Existing where there is nothing
is the meaning of the phrase:
Form is emptiness.
That all things are provided for by nothingness
is the meaning of the phrase:
Emptiness is form
One should not think that these are two separate things.


It is bad when one thing becomes two.
One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai.
It is the same for anything else that is called a “Way”.
If one understands things in this manner,
he should be able to hear about all Ways
and live more and more in accord with his own.


The Way of the Samurai is found in death.
Meditation on inevitable death should be preformed daily.
Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace,
one should meditate on being ripped apart by
Being carried away by surging waves,
being thrown into the midst of a great fire,
being struck by lightning,
being shaken to death by a great earthquake,
falling from thousand foot cliffs,
dying of disease,
committing seppuku at the death of one’s master,
and every day, without fail,
one should consider him self as
This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai.


Even if a Samurai’s head were to be suddenly cut off
he should still be able to perform one more action with certainty.
If one becomes like a revengeful ghost,
and shows great determination
though his head is cut off…
he should not die.


as dictated to me by a recording of Forest Whittaker, from the motion picture soundtrack:

Ghost Dog: the Way of the Samurai”.


Currently in reprint due to interest stemming from the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

Hagakure was originally written down by Tashiro Tsuramoto and is the result of seven years of conversations he had with Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a retired samurai. The meetings between the two began in 1710, and Hagakure was first bound in 1716.

There are no surviving original manuscripts. The current translation is based on four separate copies, all with slight variations. These are known as the Kurihara-hon, the Takashiro-hon, the Nakano-hon and (primarily) the Mochiki Nabeshimake-hon.

Translated from the Japanese by William Scott Wilson. Wilson chose to include only 300 of the 1300 passages, selecting those he felt were either the core of Hagakure or were simply interesting to a western audience.

Thanks to Shro0m for the kanji.

As a student of both Chinese culture and martial arts, I am often bewildered by the stereotypes and misconceptions that people have about both of these subjects. OF course, Chinese and Japanese cultures are not the same thing, but in people's minds they sometimes become so. I have wondered where stereotypes about Asian culture, such as that it is stoic, unfeeling and encourages a blind obedience to authority, or that the truest way to live is in nilhistic self-abnegation, have come from.

After reading the Hagakure of Tsunetomo Yamamoto, translated by Minoru Tanaka and edited by Justin F. Stone, I have some idea where these ideas might come from. In this case it is not just confused Westerners seeking enlightenment who are confusing two different traditions. Bushido, the core of values that Yamamoto espouses, is taken from the Chinese words wu shi dao, Martial Official Way. The concept of the shi, the educated person who serves others, goes far back in Chinese history and is a very important concept in confucianism. And although Yamamoto uses the term, and places a great emphasis on government service, this book has nothing to do with Confucian ethics.

Although this book is not a work of philosophy, and mostly consists of small sayings on practical matters (such as how to stop yourself from yawning and carry on a homosexual dalliance) when it does have a philosophy, it seems to be the idea of blind unwavering service to the clan, unemcumbered by ideas of life and death. To do this, the major thing that must be accomplished is control, over oneself and others. This control must be strict and applied from outside, lest a person become weak. The justification of this is somehow related to the Heart Sutra.

This book is a hodge podge of mystical beliefs and rigidly applied social structures, all in the service of a military aristocracy and its constant warfare. If this were "Asian Culture" or even Japanese culture, I would be the first to condemn Asian culture. This way of thinking isn't just immoral, it is also childish. As much as ninja spies , sword fights and Machivellian schemes may be cool in Lone Wolf and Cub, or on, nations don't become powerful because they are led by self-driven overmen with big swords and unblinking resolves. If anyone wants to know what makes a nation powerful, both in Asian thought and in reality, go read the Mencius.

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