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Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai
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Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  392 ratings  ·  21 reviews
A series of picaresque adventures set against the backdrop of a Japan still closed off from the rest of the world, Musui's Story recounts the escapades of samurai Katsu Kokichi. As it depicts Katsu stealing, brawling, indulging in the pleasure quarters, and getting the better of authorities, it also provides a refreshing perspective on Japanese society, customs, economy, a ...more
Paperback, 174 pages
Published July 1st 1988 by University of Arizona Press (first published 1988)
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This fine paperback did not seem readable to me when I leafed through it a few months ago but I decided to read it because I’ve never read such an autobiography written by a Tokugawa samurai before. Written in 1843 during his retirement, this nine-topic account would help its readers know more or better understand how the author lived or worked as well as what the people/places looked like in Edo (Now Tokyo) 170 years ago. Interestingly, there is an anonymous 4-line poem facing the Prologue page ...more
Musui's Story is an autobiography about a samurai during the Tokugawa era in Japan. To be perfectly honest, I found the re-telling of Katsu Kokichi's life to be rather bland and unnecessary for a publication. He glorifies his lack of worth ethic and also his lack of family honor all the while making himself sound like a saint at times.

The novel is a good representation of what life was like during the era, however. It shows the period for the simplicity and normalcy that it was. Media has made t
I enjoyed this book immensely, not only because of the personal insights it gives one of the everyday life of an Edo samurai during the closing years of the Edo Period, but because dispels the myth of the "honorable" samurai so often sold to the West through book and film.

Most samurai living in Edo, and most other castle towns of the period (although probably not as dishonest as Katsu Kokichi on the whole), had very little to do but march to the capital, spend money and fight off debt, and this
A rather interesting read and not quite what I expected; Musui’s story doesn’t relate recollections of grand military campaigns or platitudes of honor and martial prowess. Instead the Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai gives us a candid view into the life of a roguish anti-hero. The ever scheming protagonist gleefully recollects adventures in Edo (modern Tokyo) unbecoming the traditional conceptions most of us have of regarding the samurai. The code of bushido states something to the effect of ...more
A wonderful and funny book, written in the "readers, don't do things like I did" vein. Very revealing about what life was like for lower ranking samurai in the Tokugawa era.
Dec 28, 2013 Zachry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: japanese-memior
During the 1840s in Japan, Katsu Kokichi wrote his own life story in this book, which was translated into English by Teruko Craig. During the late period of the Tokugawa era, Katsu Kokichi came from a lower-class samurai family with a stipend of 100 koku of rice. Katsu became a rebel child during his earlier life and he has run into trouble numerous times throughout his lifetime. There are nine chapters in this book with the addition of Craig's introduction in which he gives the historical backg ...more
Nov 13, 2009 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in Samurai or History
Recommended to Jeff by: Dr. Aaron Skabelund
Shelves: nonfiction, textbooks
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Without attempting an in depth review of this book I will say that this is a super easy read, humorous and shallow(not in a bad way),and yet extremely important. Yes, haha it really is an important work because it boldly slaps you in the face with the shift in the relationship between peasants and the samurai. Not only does it shock you with the baseness of its story, but the preface and last warnings of an old man are the purest ideals of the Tokugawa era, haha funny coming from the man who did ...more
An excellent translation of a samurai diary which highlights the differences between the idealized view of the samurai and the reality of life as a samurai at the end of the Tokugawa period. Musui challenges the view of the samurai as a wealthy, honorable man, instead spending all of his money in the pleasure quarters and cheating others to pay his debts.
Rebekah Lewis
This is a story of a Tokugawa samurai... Dry... dry... dry...

Really dry. If this was fiction, I'd give it two stars. It gets 3 because I think it's unfair to be too critical of a life lead and left to us.

Read this book if you're into Samurai culture and want to see how the ordinary displaced warrior could have lived.
Nov 17, 2007 Karie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all my Ninjas
I love this book! The samurai Musui tells the tales of all his rascally misdeeds and exploits (which he obviously take some pride in) while advising the younger generation not to do what he did (even though he makes it sound like a hell of a lot of fun!)
This book takes all the romanticized images and ideas of the samurai that prevail today beats the heck out of them and spits out the hardcore gritty reality in a cynically humorous way. makes for a surprisingly easy and quick read.
Aaron Crossen
All I remember from reading this book years back is how ruthless this guy had to be just to put rice in his bowl. Kind of evens out the typical assumption of unswavering loyalty and such to include the...niceities of samurai life.
Tariq Beshty
"There can't be many in the world as foolish as I am. So let me say this to my grandchildren and great grandchildren--listen to what I have to say, and may the scoundrels and fools, especially, take my story as a lesson."
If you ever wanted to know what the day to day life of a typical samurai in Tokugawa period Japan was like... here is your very readable and good-humored source.
An interesting read though the writer didn't put himself forward as a very sympathetic person. A nice look at Tokugawa Japan, though, and the samurai class.
The is a first hand account by a Samurai when all the wars had ended and the Emperor put them in charge of their own states.
Zach Opsitnick
A very fascinating read and an open window into a part of Japan's history from the first person perspective.
Interesting view into the world of a 19th century Tokugawa samurai, albeit not a very good one
Randy Hollenbach
Unintentionally humorous. Brings a gritty reality to life in late Tokugawa Japan.
Edward Batres
meh... interesting insight into the samurai class
Conan Burroughs
Conan Burroughs marked it as to-read
Jul 05, 2015
Jur marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2015
Praj marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2015
Nancy Cohen
Nancy Cohen marked it as to-read
Jun 18, 2015
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