Episode 77 – Hidden by the Leaves

Our topic this week is Hagakure, one of the best known works on bushido ever written. Where did it come from? What is its purpose? What is its legacy? All that and more, this week!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Ikegami, Eiko. The Taming of the Samurai.

Friday, Karl. “Bushido or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition.”

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Ross, Kelley L. “Zen and the Art of Divebombing, or The Dark Side of the Tao.”

The complete text of Hagakure.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Yamamoto Tsunetomo, the author of Hagakure. I was unable to find the background of this image, and the style makes me think it's an imagining of what he looked like rather than an actual portrait, but it certainly captures my mental image of him very well.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, the author of Hagakure. I was unable to find the background of this image, and the style makes me think it’s an imagining of what he looked like rather than an actual portrait, but it certainly captures my mental image of him very well.
The Senjinkun, issued in 1940, presented a code of ethics for Japanese soldiers on the battlefield. It was heavily influenced by and has many thematic links with Hagakure; in many ways it represents an adaptation of Yamamoto's thinking to an age when everyone -- not just samurai -- was liable for service unto death.
The Senjinkun, issued in 1940, presented a code of ethics for Japanese soldiers on the battlefield. It was heavily influenced by and has many thematic links with Hagakure; in many ways it represents an adaptation of Yamamoto’s thinking to an age when everyone — not just samurai — was liable for service unto death.
American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It's a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.
American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It’s a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.
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2 thoughts on “Episode 77 – Hidden by the Leaves

  1. Husain

    Seems like there is a problem loadin this episode on the iPhone podcast app.

    Otherwise thank you for this immensely well done series

    1. Thank you for the compliment! I’m afraid I’m having trouble replicating the error on this end; can you please email me with some details? I’ll try and figure it out, and meanwhile you should file a report with Apple to see if they can’t fix it.

      Apologies for the issue!

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