Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

HagakureIf you've seen the film 'Ghost Dog', this is the text that drives the modern-day samurai's actions. Hagakure ('In the Shadow of Leaves') was written over 300 years ago and sets out the strict code of the Samurai known as Bushido: the Way of the Warrior.

Rarely can a philosophy conflict so completely with our modern day way of life and attitudes, and Hagakure is certainly shocking in places. It's most basic premise is that one must be ready and willing to die at any moment in the service of one's feudal lord.

While this attitude is never going to find much favour in the modern world, nevertheless, there is something useful to be gleaned from this approach. Consider that if one has already resolutely accepted death, then each further day of life is made precious, indeed sacred.

Hagakure is an interesting way of looking at things and offers a valuable insight into the Samurai past that Japan still holds so dear today.