Nansō Satomi Hakkenden

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi's woodblock print of Princess Fuse saving Inue Shimbyoe Masahi from a thunderbolt, a scene from Nansō Satomi Hakkenden.

Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (Japanese: (in kyūjitai) 南總里見八犬傳; (in shinjitai) 南総里見八犬伝, the older and modern kanji character forms, respectively) is a Japanese epic novel in 106 volumes by Kyokutei Bakin. The volumes were 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. The title has been translated as The Eight Dog Chronicles,[1] Tale of Eight Dogs,[2] or Biographies of Eight Dogs.[3]

Plot and influences[edit]

Yang Lin, a hero from the Chinese epic novel Water Margin or Suikoden in Japanese, from Utagawa Kuniyoshi's series of woodblock prints, 108 Heroes of the Suikoden.

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 by Shi Nai'an.[how?] Japanese translations date back to at least 1757, when the first volume of an early Suikoden (Water Margin rendered in Japanese) was printed.[4]

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 in the original Japanese, 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[3] and chs. 12, 13, and 19 by Chris Drake.[4] A full translation is currently in progress.[5]

History of reception[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.

In live-action film and TV there are numerous adaptions: the first in 1938, then a series in the 1950s, and since the influential TV series Shin Hakkenden (新八犬伝) from the early 1970s, every decade has had either a live-action adaptation or a show significantly influenced by the novel, right up through the 2010s.

There are manga and anime versions of the story by Aomata Pink, Yoshimura Natsuki, Miyazoe Ikuo and Clamp.

In modern media[edit]

Direct adaptations or simply elements and themes from Hakkenden can be found in a wide range of other work, especial those in the historical fantasy genre in Japan.

  • The first film adaptation was in 1938.
  • There was a series in the 1950s.
  • In the early 1970s, there was an influential TV series Shin Hakkenden (新八犬伝).
  • In 1983, there was Satomi Hakkenden.
  • In 1999, there was the anime television series Shin Hakkenden (with a different kanji spelling, 神八剣伝).
  • There was 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.
  • Sorcerer's Orb (1954)
  • There is also a Kabuki adaptation of the novel.[5]
  • In August 2006, the Kabukiza put on the play.[6]
  • In 1959, the TOEI motion picture company made "Satomi Hakkenden."[7]
  • Aomata Pink created an anime or manga version.
  • Yoshimura Natsuki created an anime or manga version.
  • Miyazoe Ikuo created an anime or manga version.

Anime and manga[edit]

  • The novel is 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 becoming the targets of a serial murder among them.
  • The eight crystal orbs owned by the samurai half-brothers was the inspiration for the titular objects in the 1984 manga Dragon Ball. Unlike the original folk tale, however, there are only seven Dragon Balls for the sake of simplicity.
  • In the anime and manga Naruto, Kiba Inuzuka is based on the novel, as is his clan.
  • 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".
  • In 1989, CLAMP's manga Hagun Seisenki depicts young twin leaders (Princess Fuse and her brother, Inue Shimbyoe Masahi) of the Satomi and the Hakkenshi, 8 elite warriors loyal to the Satomi clan, in the Sengoku era. The manga then shows their reincarnated selves in the 1990s as students and employees of CLAMP Academy (which is also a setting in some other CLAMP manga). Each of the Hakkenshi are connected to a bead containing a kanji character that reflects one of the eight fundamental virtues of Confucianism.
  • Miyuki Abe adapted the novel into her manga, Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, which was later made into two anime series. Even the character's names are the same as the original 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.

Novels and movies[edit]

  • In 1978, Kinji Fukasaku's science fiction film Message from Space was a loose adaptation of the novel, as written by legendary manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori.
  • In 1983, Fukasaku also directed Legend of the Eight Samurai, an adaptation of the 1982 novel Shin Satomi Hakkenden, a loose reworking of Satomi Hakkenden.
  • In 2006, Nobuhiro Doi directed Nanso Satomi Hakkenden, a movie consisting of two episodes based on the novel, written by Mika Omori.


  • There is a museum devoted to the novel and its scenic adaptation in the Tateyama Castle in Tateyama, Chiba
  • 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 bead with a kanji character of a certain virtue 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).
  • In 1989, Data East published Makai Hakkenden Shada for the TurboGrafx-16 based on the novel.


  • ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Shirane and Brandon, Early Modern Japanese Literature, p564.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ Nansō Satomi Hakkenden on Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]