The Samurai

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Flower of Japan

“You must understand that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain”
Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

Musashi was an extraordinary man who lived during an extraordinary period in history.  Twelve century Japan saw the end of the traditional rule of the emperors.  By the time of Musashi’s birth in 1584, Japan had experienced more than four hundred years of internal strife. Civil wars waged between the provincial lords, warrior monks and bandits.  The fifteenth and sixteenth centuries saw the rise of Daimyos, powerful territorial lords who built huge stone castles to defend their lands.  The Daimyos relied on the Samurai, a powerful military caste in feudal Japan, to be their trusted retainers.

The Shogun, the military general, was the de facto ruler of Japan.

Musashi belonged to the Samurai class, recognized as the elite of their society.   His ancestors were of the powerful Harima clan in Kyushu, the southern island of Japan.  Records show he was born into a noble, yet humble, family.

The winds of change were in motion.  The time for Japan to unify was at hand.

“There are various Ways.  There is the Way of salvation by the law of Buddha, the Way of Confucius governing the Way of learning, the Way of healing as a doctor, as a poet teaching the Way of Waka, tea, archery, and many arts and skills. Each man practises as he feels inclined.”
Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy

28 thoughts on “The Samurai

    • I am finding this research fascinating! Thank you so much for adding to the discussion – much appreciated.

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  1. A choice of ways – flexibility in other words – v wise and something also taught by Lao Tzu. Sometimes hard to achieve when one feels one is right but it is always the better answer in the end!

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    • I agree! Have you ever noticed how our lives are made up of “one ways.” Which really means, “my way.”It reminds me of that great line that I have heard many times – “that’s how we do it around here.” To me, flexibility is a refreshing, but as you so said – easier said than done.:)

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    • You are so kind!!! I have always wanted to explore Musashi’s life. I know very little of Japan’s remarkable history and Musashi seemed a good place to begin. I look forward to hearing your thoughts….

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    • There is a couple movies – one where Toshiro Mifune played Musashi. You may remember that Mufune was the Shogun in the miniseries Shogun. He really is amazing.

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      • I am also told by my manga addicted offspring that Musashi features in manga. I asked if he knew about Musashi and he looked (via internet looks) at me as if I were the world’s greatest ignoramous. 😀 You know that “What planet do you live on Mother ? ” type of look!

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      • You made me laugh out loud! I’m on the same planet as you are – I have much to learn. Stay tuned for the Pinterest Gallery that I’m going to be putting together…

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  2. The classic guide to strategy…I wonder if that was originated from a Chines book. If you give me the name in Japanese writing, may be I can find out. Thanks.

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    • Thank you for checking that out. This is the information from Wikipedia. The Book of Five Rings (五輪書 Go Rin No Sho?) Tomorrow, I will be putting something together for a Pinterest Gallery. You add so much to the dialogue – thank you.

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      • As expected, it is about the five elements: gold, wood , water , fire, earth, long established in ancient Chinese philosophy, medicine and feng shui. It was originated in 易經。unfortunately there are little information in English when I google the information. The translation is also bad. Therefore I can’t tell you more. Because I know nothing apart from the names. I read somewhere that the Indian epic Mahabharata also includes something similar to the five elements. I read the information on line about the book of five rings, which originated in martial art. It is therefore interesting to read all of hem to find out. Unfortunately only this book is written in English.

        It is an interesting subject, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing.

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      • Denise – Thank you!!! This is excellent information and the basis of further research. The recurring five elements has always fascinated me because it ties humanity to the earth and nature. I really appreciate your input and research into this topic. There is so much more to learn!!!

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      • Thank you, my dear friend. During my life, I remember the kindness of those who encouraged me to persevere. I think that Plato says it much better than I could.

        “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
        ― Plato

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    • I confess I know very little of Japan’s history, so I thought Musashi would be a good place to start! I’m learning as I go! I am so glad when you stop by!

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  3. Now I feel even more inspired to dig into Musashi’s work, that’s great! Thanks a lot for sharing, dear Clanmother. Take care.
    Love to you from England
    Dina

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