The Soul of Japan
by Inazo Nitobe
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 14 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 14 Sep 2021
Amber Books Ltd, Amber Books
A Note From the Publisher
Please note the printed edition is hand bound in a traditional style with an imitation cloth cover.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 12 members
What an incredible book! I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I've really been blown away. I need to start by saying this book isn't exactly for the casual reader. Written in the early 1900's, the language is as poetic as it is academic, and will be complicated to follow for anyone not used to this formal style. It is an exploration of Bushido, also known as the way of the Samurai, but on a much deeper scale than many popular Western interpretations. The author takes us through the defining principles of Bushido, alongside a profound exploration of Western similarities, both cultural and spiritual. The author does profess deep Christian beliefs, and this gets woven into his examination of the Japanese vs European culture at each stage. Sometimes it felt like he was apologising for any practices that might go against the grain of the Christian faith, which marred it a bit for me as my focus was the Japanese culture and belief system itself, rather than Western ideals. However, it was written so beautifully, it hardly mattered most of the time. Once I'd gotten used to the flow of the language, I found it a fascinating read. Some of the chapters were more difficult to process than others, (the hara-kiri one for example) while some took me completely by surprise (fascinated by the chapter on women in the Bushido world and the teachings/expectations laid out for them)! The essential moral code and the unique perspective it brings to the Japanese culture even now (from my own outside perspective) is truly incredible. It is a book I'd recommend dipping into if you're not used to it, as it can be quite heady. The chapters are well defined, and are complemented by 67 stunning traditional illustrations & paintings. The whole layout and design of the book is really a visual treat, and I'm very keen to get my hands on the Chinese cloth-bound hard copy! Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me take a look at this stunning advance copy, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone with serious (perhaps more scholarly) interest in Bushido specifically, or in Japan's history and culture in general.