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Cover of The Book of the Samurai

Hagakure (Kyūjitai: 葉隱; Shinjitai: 葉隠; meaning Hidden by the Leaves or hidden leaves),[1] or Hagakure Kikigaki (葉隠聞書?) is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the clerk Yamamoto Tsunetomo, former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of what is now Saga Prefecture in Japan. Tsuramoto Tashiro compiled these commentaries from his conversations with Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716; however, it was not published until many years afterwards. Hagakure is also known as The Book of the Samurai, Analects of Nabeshima or Hagakure Analects.


The book records Tsunetomo's views on bushido, the warrior code of the samurai. Hagakure is sometimes said to assert that bushido is really the "Way of Dying" or living as though one was already dead, and that a samurai must be willing to die at any moment in order to be true to his lord. His saying "the way of the warrior is death" was a summation of the willingness to sacrifice that bushido codified.[2]

Historical context[edit]

After his master died, Tsunetomo himself was forbidden to perform junshi, a retainer's ritual suicide, by an edict of the Tokugawa Shogunate combined with his master's disapproval of the tradition. Hagakure may have been written partially in an effort to outline the role of the samurai in a more peaceful society. Several sections refer to the "old days", and imply[original research?] a dangerous weakening of the samurai class since that time.

The Hagakure was written approximately one hundred years after the start of the Tokugawa era, a time of relative peace. With no major campaigns to fight, the samurai were transforming from a warrior to an administrative class. His work represents[original research?] one approach to the problem of maintaining military preparedness and a proper military mindset in a time when neither has much practical application.[citation needed]


  • Hagakure: The Secret Wisdom of the Samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by Alexander Bennett, Tuttle Publishing, 2014, ISBN 978-4-8053-1198-1 (Full Translation)
  • The Art of the Samurai: Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by Barry D. Steben, Duncan Baird, September 2008, ISBN 1-84483-720-3 (Partial translation)
  • Hagakure, The Way of the Samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by Takao Mukoh, Angkor Verlag, 2000 (Reprint) ISBN 3-8311-1530-3
  • Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by William Scott Wilson, Kondansha International Ltd., 1979, ISBN 4-7700-1106-7 (Partial translation)
  • Hagakure, The manga edition, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by William Scott Wilson, a comic book/manga version, adapted by Sean Michael Wilson and Chie Kutsuwada, Kondansha International Ltd., 2011.
  • Bushido, The Way of the Samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by Justin F. Stone and Minoru Tanaka, Square One Publishers, 2003, ISBN 0-7570-0026-6


  1. ^ Tsunetomo, Yamamoto (2002). Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Wilson, William Scott (trans.). Stackpole Books. p. 15. ISBN 4-7700-2916-0. 
  2. ^ Meirion and Susie Harries, Soldiers of the Sun: The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army p 7 ISBN 0-394-56935-0

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]