Book Review of "Heart of the Warrior" by Catarina Blomberg

Topics: Samurai, Shinto, Confucianism Pages: 6 (2119 words) Published: September 25, 2005
This is my review on "The Heart of the Warrior," written by Catharina Blomberg. In this review I intend to go through each chapter pointing out what the chapter discussed and what I learned from reading this book. I chose this book because it seemed interesting and something that was worthwhile for the time I spent reading it. This book seems to take a more in depth look at what we have touched on in class.

The introduction chapter of this book deals with a brief history of how the samurai or "Bushi" come to exist and how they impact Japan throughout history. The book goes into detail about the many different ethical aspects of bushi (a warrior), and how they should strive to live their lives. Many of these aspects are illustrated in the Gunki Monogatari, which is a form of literature that became popular in the early Kamakura period. These tales would paint the picture of the samurai and the brave and dashing warrior who fought for what they stood for and had the strict code of honor that came to be known as bushido, or the way of the warrior (ix).

Most of these works were written by bushi for bushi, and it took that state of mentality to understand the true meaning of many of the works. The Samurai also had their own ideas when it came to traditional religions such as Shinto and Buddhism. These were peaceful religions, which discouraged violence, and bloodshed but the bushi, being professional warriors were called on to take life without hesitation. The code they lived by also meant that they lived simple lifestyles and were expected to be chivalrous (74).

The first chapter of this book is titled, "The Formation of a Warrior Nobility," and deals with how the class of samurai came to be and how far it dates back in history. The earliest representations of Japanese warriors are clay figures called "haniwa" which were found on ancient grave mounds around 250-500 A.D. These figures were often wearing suits of armor and armed with swords. The earliest soldiers seem to have belonged to local leaders and guarded the leaders land from invasion from outside forces. Japan was unified and and Emperor took power in 646 A.D, and a government which was modeled after the T'ang dynasty in China now ruled. A centralized military unit was organized which would be called upon when needed (6.) The first set of military guidelines came as the Yoro Code, which were revised later into the Taiho Laws, which set the rules for military guards, palace guards, and the armed personal guards to the Emperor. The term "Samurai" can be traced back to the word, saburahu, and meaning, "to serve a master."
The second chapter entitled "Bushi Attitudes Towards the Traditional Religions," deals with exactly what the title states. There were several forms of religion in Japan at this time. This first was Shinto, which is basically an agricultural religion, which focuses on the harvest of rice, as well as cleanliness and purification by means of cold running water (18). The next major religion of the time was Buddhism. This came from China most likely through Korea and became popular. Chinese monks were invited to teach the people and Japanese monks were sent to China to learn the religion and bring back their knowledge. Another major religion was Confucianism, which is composed of ethics and came to Japan even earlier than Buddhism through traveling merchants. Confucianism has a moral code in which everyone should know his or her place in the hierarchical system. It also outlines the five different types of relationships, which are between lord and servant, father and son, husband and wife, older brother and younger brother, and friend and friend. These guidelines helped to shape the backbone of Japanese society (20). As stated earlier a big difference in the way a normal Japanese citizen and a samurai would interpret the religions is the fact that as part of his job and being expected of him, that the bushi would...
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