Nansō Satomi Hakkenden

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Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (Kyūjitai: 南總里見八犬傳?, Shinjitai: 南総里見八犬伝) is a Japanese 106 volume epic novel by Kyokutei Bakin. It was written and published over a period of nearly thirty years (1814 to 1842). Bakin had gone blind before finishing the tale, and he dictated the final parts to his daughter-in-law Michi. It is translated as The Eight Dog Chronicles,[1] Tale of Eight Dogs,[2] or Biographies of Eight Dogs.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Set in the tumultuous Sengoku period (350 years before Bakin lived), Hakkenden is the story of eight samurai half-brothers—all of them descended from a dog and bearing the word "dog" in their surnames—and their adventures, with themes of loyalty and family honor, as well as Confucianism, bushido and Buddhist philosophy. One of the direct inspiration sources of the novel is the 14th-17th-century Chinese epic novel Water Margin. The story of a princess marrying a dog who brings her father the head of his enemy seems to be a reference to the Chinese myth of Panhu.

An earlier serial novel by Bakin, Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki (椿説弓張月) (Strange Tales of the Crescent Moon) had been illustrated by the famous ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, but the two did not work well together. For Hakkenden, Hokusai's son-in-law, Yanagawa Shigenobu was employed as illustrator instead.

A complete reprinting in ten volumes is available, as well as various modern Japanese translations, most of them abridged. Only a few chapters are available translated into English, ch. 25 by Donald Keene[1] and chs. 12, 13, and 19 by Chris Drake.[2] A full translation is currently in progress.

Film, TV and theatrical adaptations[edit]

Though hugely popular at the time of publication and into the early twentieth century, Bakin's work lost favour after the Meiji Restoration, it came back into fashion later in the 20th century. There are numerous film adaptions, the first in 1938, then a series in the 1950s, an influential TV series Shin Hakkenden (新八犬伝) during the early 1970s, the 1983 Satomi Hakkenden, the 1999 anime TV series Shin Hakkenden (with a different kanji spelling, 神八剣伝), and the most recent: a made-for-TV two-part mini-series in early 2006. Perhaps the best known screen version in the west is the 1990s AIC two sequence OVA The Hakkenden.

Other adaptations[edit]

There are manga and anime versions of the story by Aomata Pink, Yoshimura Natsuki and Miyazoe Ikuo, and elements and themes from Hakkenden can be found in a wide range of other work.

In modern media[edit]

  • In the video game Ōkami, the player must seek out the eight Satomi canine warriors, who are characterized and named after the eight virtues of Confucianism. In the game, the warriors are actual dogs who wear a virtue bead in a bandana around their neck. Princess Fuse is also present, but plays the role of their owner or caretaker, instead of their mother (which is the traditional relationship between them).
  • This story is also related to two cases in Detective Conan: the first where a dog-lover uses this tale to present his will to his family and all of his dogs are named after the warriors in the story; the second has eight children named after the eight virtues become the targets of a serial murder among them.
  • There is a museum devoted to the novel and its scenical adaptation in the Tateyama Castle in Tateyama, Chiba
  • In the anime and manga Naruto, Kiba Inuzuka is based on this tale, as well as his clan.
  • Data East published Makai Hakkenden Shada in 1989 for the TurboGrafx-16 based on the novel.
  • In the manga version of Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin there are eight wolf warriors with special powers, who call themselves the Hakkenshi (八犬士?), or "Eight Canine Warriors".
  • Kinji Fukasaku's 1978 science fiction film Message from Space was a loose adaptation of the story, as written by legendary manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori (In 1983, Fukasaku directed Legend of the Eight Samurai, an adaptation of the 1982 novel Shin Satomi Hakkenden, a loose reworking of Satomi Hakkenden).
  • In manga and anime of Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, written by Miyuki Abe who adapted the Hakkenden as his basic story. Even the character's names are the same with the original of The Hakkenden but the story is completely changed.
  • Masayuki Miyaji's 2012 anime film Fuse Teppō Musume no Torimonochō is presented as a 'counterfeit' version of the story, set not long after the historical Hakkenden was published - with the Hakkenden itself and its author as part of the plot.


  • ^ Kyokutei Bakin (1819) "Shino and Hamaji". In Keene, Donald (Ed.) ([1955] 1960) Anthology of Japanese Literature: from the earliest era to the mid-nineteenth century, pp. 423–428. New York, NY: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-5058-6
  • ^ Kyokutei Bakin (1819) "Fusehime at Toyama Cave," "Fusehime's Decision," "Shino in Otsuka Village," "Hamaji and Shino". Translated by Chris Drake in Haruo Shirane (Ed.) (2002) Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology 1600-1900, pp. 885–909. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-10991-1


  1. ^ Shirane, Haruo (2002). Early Modern Japanese Literature: an Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia University Press. p. 886. ISBN 0-231-10990-3. 
  2. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (2007). The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868-1945. Coughlan Publishing. p. 196. ISBN 0-231-11861-9. 
  3. ^ Keene, Donald (1955). Anthology of Japanese Literature, From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Grove Press. p. 423. ISBN 0-8021-5058-6. 

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