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Musashi (Musashi Complete)

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  12,058 Ratings  ·  796 Reviews
The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman. Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese story telling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and absolute dedication to the Way of the Samurai ...more
Hardcover, 970 pages
Published July 14th 1995 by Kodansha International (first published 1935)
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Dustin Dye I'd recommend Taiko first, as historically the events in Musashi follow those in Taiko. Musashi appears to have been written earlier, but the…moreI'd recommend Taiko first, as historically the events in Musashi follow those in Taiko. Musashi appears to have been written earlier, but the preceding historical events would have been well-known to its Japanese audience, whereas foreigners might feel lost without the context. Both are stand-alone novels, however, and can be read, understood and enjoyed in any order.

I personally enjoyed Taiko the most, and would recommend that if you had to choose only one of them. I found it more epic and the translation was stronger. Taiko was highly edited from the Japanese original, which was sprawling and had a lot more subplots and minor characters than the better-focused English translation. Musashi is a full translation. Keep in mind both were serialized, and there are some problems in that format, which are more evident in Musashi. The book contains a few too many coincidences to completely suspend disbelief. This would have been less obvious to an audience reading it piece-by-piece in a newspaper than reading it consolidated in novel form with the ability to flip back. And while Yoshikawa remained amazingly consistent in the characters and subplots, no small feat for a story this size, some characters are dropped with no explanation (Musashi's sister), and he does have to do some backtracking at times when a certain detail from Musashi's past becomes important, but Yoshikawa had neglected to include it in earlier installments, so he has to elude to an episode that didn't happen in the book.

If you have to read anything first, The Heike Story is another good starting place. It is a well-known story in Japan, but Yoshikawa gives it a compelling twist by telling it from the point-of-view of its traditional villain (for that reason, the Japanese title literally translates to NEW Heike Story). The English translation actually came out before Yoshikawa had finished the Japanese version, so it is definitely not a complete translation, but that's OK, as it ends in a good spot. Heike's translation isn't as stong as Taiko or Musashi, however. You might also consider reading Shogun by James Clavell in between Taiko and Musashi as it is a fictionalized version of the events between the two novels (use Google to connect the fictional characters with their historical counterparts). But flip past the laughably bad romantic subplot.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 16+
A breathtaking fictionalization of the life of one of the world's greatest warriors and renaissance men. Yoshikawa takes us on a mezmorizing voyage to a crossroads in Japanese history that changed all the rules and gave birth to a legend. The book opens in the year 1600 at the end of the infamous battle of Sekigahara, where the armies of east and western Japan met to decide who would govern: Toyotomi or Tokugawa. In the end to Tokugawa emerged victorious and the 150 year period of civil war cam ...more
Oct 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
wow...that is the first thing that came to mind when i finished this book. it is easily the best historical fiction i have ever read. it is also the largest and most difficult book i have ever read. it is very japanese therefore some of the names and places tend to get mixed up in the nearly 1000 page epic. however...that is the only negative i have after reading this book. it will go down as one of my favorite reads of all time. it focuses on the life (very dramatized by the fantastic eiji yosh ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Perhaps my expectations were too high but I was a bit disappointed by this book. I am really interested in (traditional) Japanese culture and looked forward to reading Musashi. Although it is an entertaining read and I did gain some inspiration from it, I found it really missed the depth you'd expect from such a saga.

Apart from Musashi himself, all the other characters in the book are fairly one-dimensional and as a consequence, the story does not really seem to progress or unravel after the fir
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
This is a quick read despite its length. The language is easy and there's plenty of action. Unfortunately I thought the characters are mostly two-dimensional and the plot repetitive. If you're interested in samurais and Japanese culture, give it a try.
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
5 stars for sheer enjoyment and immersion in another time and culture. This book has easily landed on my favourites list. Despite its nearly thousand pages I was fully immersed in the story of Miyamoto Musashi and never felt like I was slogging through an enormous tome. To be fair the beginning is a little rough, but Eiji Yoshikawa does an excellent job at keeping things moving as we follow the famous ‘sword-saint’ of early Tokugawa-era Japan in his growth from a callow, bullying youth into a ma ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is easily my favorite book. It's very long and translated from Japanese resulting in some rough spots, but nevertheless, I could not put this one down. I recommend this to anyone...well, anyone who loves sword fighting.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it liked it
A very weighty historical novel about samurai. I thought I'd like this a lot more than I did. I might try again later.
Apr 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-lit
I read this novel about four years ago. At the time, the teacher for whom I was doing a book report on this novel, thought I was insane for picking such a long and complex novel. I vaguely remember someone else in my class reading The Bourne Supremacy.

I would have this tied with I, Claudius for the best historical fiction I've yet to read. Telling the tale of Miyamoto Musashi, the sword-saint of Japan, it begins with his rural boyhood and ends with a final showdown between the great warrior and
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Ini buku pertama yang banyak memberikan inspirasi dalam hidup saya. Dimana perubahan 180° bisa terjadi dalam hidup kita.
Buku ini tidak semata-mata darah dan pertarungan tapi lebih pada Semangat dalam pencarian dan pengembangan jati diri, Kesetiaan dan Kepasrahan Cinta, Keindahan dan Seni.
Saya memberikan rating penuh untuk buku ini, bukan karena akan dusukai oleh semua orang. Tapi lebih banyak ke pribadi saya yang tidak akan melupakan sihir dari buku ini pada kehidupan saya.
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of the old Criterion Collection samurai movies and I loved Toshiro Mifune's portrayal of Musashi, so I thought I'd give this a read. I found it VERY slow at the beginning, but I powered through. It took me as long to read this as it did to read Don Quixote….coincidentally, Musashi lived at the same time as Cervantes, so it was interesting to compare what was going on in Japan in the time of Shakespeare and Cervantes.

The story is epic in scope and follows Musashi Myamoto's life
Aug 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book. It consisted of boring parts, punctuated by parts where the main character and maybe other characters, would go do something really stupid because of their bizarre moral codes or lack thereof.

The book is old enough that the levels of sexism in it are absurd, and parts of it got me so annoyed that I was really distracted from the plot.

I suppose it's interesting to get a perspective on a VERY different culture, but half the time I couldn't fathom any conceivable logical
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pertama kali melihat buku ini, kira-kira 2 tahun yang lalu. Ia begitu tebal, dan terusterang itu membuat saya terprovokasi untuk membacanya. Dalam benak saya apa gerangan Gramedia menerbitkan buku yang begitu tebal seperti ini, apa buku ini bagus dan terkenal? Perasaan itu mengemuka, tapi tidak cukup menggerakkan saya untuk membeli. Kemudian, beberapa bulan terakhir, di blog teman saya ada sebuah tulisan mengenai Musashi, kupikir, betapa hebatkah tokoh ini dan bila benar demikian, apakah saya la ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a fan of epic fantasy, I was surprised by how much this was right in my wheelhouse, and I think this should be better-known among SF fans. It's a classic bildungsroman with epic battles, tragic romances, fun if somewhat archetypal characters, and a tremendous amount of cultural flavor and historical information.

It was published serially, and as a result is extremely episodic, which isn't a flaw precisely, although it does slow down the pacing and make it a trifle choppy. It's also got a bit o
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: worldliterature
An incredible, sprawling masterpiece... Yoshikawa tells the story of Japan's greatest swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, in an awing bildungsroman that sees a young violent punk transformed into a masterful buddhist hero. Inspired the Hiroshi Inagaki Samurai films. Highly recommended.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha! Tuhle knihu jsem koupil roku 2007, kdy vyšla… a od té doby jí často bral na dovolenou, s tím, že se tam do ní konečně pustím. Ale nakonec jsme vždycky sáhl po něčem, co nemělo skoro tisíc, hustě popsaných stránek. A teď, konečně, jsem to dokázal. Udělal jsem další pokrok na své Cestě Knihy.

Musaši je legendární japonský román, zachycující část života Mijamota Musašiho, slavného bojovníka… a inspirace všech možných dalších knih, filmů (samozřejmě ho hrál i Toširó Mifune), seriálů i komiksů –
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Juli 2005 lalu, sebuah buku terbit—judulnya Elang Retak. Ditulis oleh Gus Ballon, buku ini menceritakan tentang operasi sebuah pasukan Angkatan Darat TNI di pulau tak bertuan, dekat samudera Pasifik. Pada mulanya, seperti buku-buku baru lain, rasa-rasanya tak ada beda. Tapi ada yang mengusik. Sebuah kalimat terpampang menggelitik di sampul depan: "Mati bukan masalah, hidup itulah persoalan."

Itulah kalimat yang pas untuk melukiskan kesan yang saya dapat setelah membaca Musashi. Seluruh apa yang d
Martha Sockel
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, samurai
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Yoshikawa was reccomended to me by my uncle, a Japanese History enthusiast. I have an active interest in Japanese culture and ritual, but not even a working understanding of their history. Taiko, the actual novel that was reccomended to me, has a very similar tone and feel as Musashi, but what really interested me in this book is that the politics of ancient Japan is the backdrop for the novel, as Musashi, a maturing Samurai, wanders through the Japanese countryside. Taiko is much more focused o ...more
Abhishek Anbazhagan
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There are books that overwhelm you to such an extent that you are at a utter loss to explain how you feel after you have finished them.It is not that you are unable to pick the right words but you know that any words you choose will be in adequate to completely express how you feel.Let me still try,this book is going to have a strong bearing on the kind of person I turn out to be.As I shadowed Musashi through his wanderings and his education, I felt every emotion that coursed through his veins.I ...more
Blake Brasher
Apr 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Mostly this book is like Pokemon. A young man wandered around the wilderness in his quest to be the greatest samurai/Pokemon master and runs into others who he does battle with to increase his power. He gains new techniques from kindly old masters and visits temples where he participates in more battles.

The story does start to be more engaging in about the last third of the book. You can tell that it was originally released serially and should probably be consumed with the attitude one has towa
There were portions of this novel that I really enjoyed, but other sections I found somewhat tedious. This is not because of a lack of action; on the contrary, there seems to be action in every single chapter. Rather it's because of the large number of poorly developed characters, settings, and side stories. Half the time, I found myself not caring.

About halfway through the book I learned it had been written and published in serialized format in a Japanese newspaper. This is why each chapter fee
Eiríkur Eiríksson
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Erfitt að lýsa með orðum. Mjög áhrifarík bók, mæli með. Gerist ekki mikið betra að mínu mati.
Serazhutdin Khappalaev
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Мусаси" Ёсикавы, изданный у нас под названием "Десять Меченосцев", повествует об отрезке жизненного пути выдающегося японского фехтовальщика Миямото Мусаси. Хронологически, действие романа начинается практически там же, где заканчивается горячо любимый мною "Сёгун" Джеймса Клавелла (надо перечитать!), однако, в отличие от западного взгляда на знаменательные исторические события в Японии, поступки главных действующих лиц романа куда менее масштабны в контексте геополитики, но намного более подро ...more
Ambientato nel 1600 , il romanzo inizia subito dopo la battaglia di Sekigahara (15/09/1600) e termina con la tenzone fra il protagonista e Sasaki Kojiro (1612).
Romanzo storico, ricco di personaggi , alcuni dei quali realmente esistiti e non celati da pseudonimi, narra le gesta del giovane Takezo che solo in seguito prenderà il nome di Musashi Miyamoto. Reduce e superstite dalla battaglia di Sekigahara diviene ronin. Inizialmente un samurai improvvisato, con il passare del tempo giunge alla certe
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shinmen Takezo, che cambierà il suo nome nell'universalmente noto Musashi Miyamoto, è uno di quei personaggi destinato a diventare leggenda.
Incarna l'ideale del vagabondo alla perenne ricerca di qualcosa. Un avversario, un'ispirazione, una sfida. Fondamentalmente, alla ricerca di se stesso.
Troppo affascinante per non essere preso a modello.
La sua "via", il suo lascito, è ben più spirituale che tecnico, a dispetto di quanto potrebbe pensare chi inquadra Musashi semplicemente come "guerriero". Non
Penso questo sia uno di quei libri che parte un po’ in sordina ma che ti vince pagina dopo pagina, poi arrivi alla fine e non riesci più a staccartene. Pur essendo la storia di Musashi, il cast di personaggi è ampissimo, e copre tante tematiche. Ogni storia, anche la più piccola, s’intreccia poi in un disegno più grande. È un ottimo romanzo d’intrattenimento, ma anche un ottimo libro di storia; perché è pieno di particolari, notizie di costume e descrizioni sulla vita in Giappone. Ho imparato se ...more
Saji Connor
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eiji Yoshikawa è l'autore di questo lungo, lunghissimo romanzo che mi ha tenuto impegnata per diversi mesi perché conta ben 840 pagine scritte con un carattere piccolo, piccolo, piccolo.
Un libro che alle volte sembra quasi infinito, ma se amate il Giappone, quello delle tradizioni, quello della storia, quello dei Samurai, quello che era prima dell'apertura verso l'occidente, allora questa storia che non volgere mai verso la fine, non vi stancherà mai ed avrete sempre voglia di bere da questa sor
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan, samurai
Intimidated by its length for such a 7-book novel, I did not think I would finish reading this epic novel of a master samurai named Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645), one of the great Japanese swordsmen in 16th century Japan ( However, it is not simply a novel of ruthless, gory and god-like fights we might have read in the same genre or guessed from its brutal-looking cover, rather it is a classic samurai novel penned brilliantly by Eiji Yoshikawa since it ...more
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mi è piaciuto:
- La trama: un intreccio che tiene incollati al libro, si vuol sempre sapere cosa accade dopo.
- Affresco realistico della cultura giapponese non filtrato da occhi occidentali. Mi ha molto sorpreso la concezione dell' "onore" giapponese che traspare dal libro. Finora lo avevo sempre considerato un pregio, qualcosa da imitare e invece questo libro mostra le degenerazioni che tale sentimento può avere.
. la filosofia e la profondità di alcuni pensieri che, di tanto in tanto, intervalla
Augusto Saad
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No es un libro fácil. Su lectura se parece a la peregrinación del propio personaje, que camina en búsqueda de la perfección y de la iluminación. La dificultad que muchos pueden encontrar viene, por sorpresa, de la calidad de la traducción y del contenido traducido.
Es un verdadero viaje al Japón antiguo. A través de sus detalles nos hacen ver más que los detalles históricos extremadamente apurados, pero también la complejidad del pensamiento y de la cultura del pueblo japonés.
Es un libro que a ve
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Pen-name of Yoshikawa Hidetsugu. Yoshikawa is well-known for his work as a Japanese historical fiction novelist, and a number of re-makes have been spawned off his work.

In 1960, he received the Order of Cultural Merit.
Eiji Yoshikawa (吉川 英治, August 11, 1892 – September 7, 1962) was a Japanese historical novelist. Among his best-known novels, most are revisions of older classics. He was mainly influ
More about Eiji Yoshikawa

Other books in the series

Musashi (5 books)
  • Musashi: The Way of the Samurai
  • Musashi (Musashi, #2)
  • Musashi: The Way of the Sword
  • Musashi: The Bushido Code
  • Musashi: The Way of Life and Death

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“It is easy to crush an enemy outside oneself but impossible to defeat an enemy within.” 609 likes
“Fighting isn't all there is to the Art of War. The men who think that way, and are satisfied to have food to eat and a place to sleep, are mere vagabonds. A serious student is much more concerned with training his mind and disciplining his spirit than with developing martial skills.” 50 likes
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