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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  3,770 ratings  ·  298 reviews
"In the tempestuous closing decades of the sixteenth century, the Empire of Japan writhes in chaos as the shogunate crumbles and rival warlords battle for supremacy. Warrior monks in their armed citadels block the road to the capital; castles are destroyed, villages plundered, fields put to the touch." "Amid this devastation, three men dream of uniting the nation. At one e ...more
Hardcover, 1142 pages
Published 2012 by PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama (first published 1967)
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know there used to be this thing in Japan called the "Sengoku" period which was basically civil war all over the place, the Shogun was kind of a loser and every lord of any clan tried to become the leader of Japan.

This book is a fictionalized account of the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the guy who finally united the country, first under Oda Nobunaga and later on by himself. Because that life was long and complicated the book is with 944 pages big enough to kill a cat, there's enou
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Taiko for the first time more than twenty years ago and enjoyed it enormously as you might suspect, since I have chosen to read it again. To some extent, reading this book a second time was in preparation for a trip to Japan that Claudia and I will take a bit down the road. To that end, Taiko contains a great deal of Japanese history since it is a novel based on the life of one of the three great unifiers of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It also describes many elements of Japanese culture th ...more
Farhan Sani
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on true story of Hideyoshi, the taiko, the ruler of japan on behalf of the emperor at feudal era.

A fascinating story about a person who struggles from zero to hero, and yet still very "human" which his strengths and weaknesses.

This book, together with "Musashi", indeed made me, until now, eager to learn anything related with japan. its culture, spirit, people, way of life, language...anything.
Not mentioning that currently I am working in a japanese company :)
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taiko is an epic: prepare for a long, long 1,000 page journey.

If you've got a serious interest in Sengoku period Japan, this book is essential: it walks you through the life of a samurai--in many ways the most successful samurai ever--and gives you a front-row ticket to the great battles of the period. For me, it pieced a lot of random knowledge together into a refreshingly coherent narrative.

It is also an incredible human novel. Hideyoshi was not a macho warrior: what ma
Great Story; Somewhat Difficult Read: This is a story of feudal Japan and unification of the clannish and war torn country by a once poor, downtrodden commoner who became Taiko (supreme ruler) through a series of battles and diplomatic strategies.

The story is captivating and the subject matter is rich with possibility. However, there are two main shortcomings with the novel that I believe detract from what could have been a five star effort:

1. The virtual avalanche of Japanese names, for bot
Max Fallon
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me over a year to read this epic. Partly because I was busy and partly because there were a few parts of the story that were a struggle to get through. However the main reason it took so long is that I didn't want it to end.

This is probably a novel more for the Japanese history buff, or the samurai nerd, however, like other Eji Yoshikawa novels like Musashi, there is a lot of practical wisdom in there, particularly for those interested in long-range strategy.

Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eiji Yoshikawa’s historical novel TAIKO chronicles the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the 16th-century unifier of Japan.

Of humble origins, Hideyoshi found a way to attach himself to the court of the powerful Oda Nobunaga. Starting in the most menial positions, the brilliant, energetic and ambitious Hideyoshi excelled at every task and gradually worked his way up to become Nobunaga’s top general. After Nobunaga’s death, he succeeded in unifying Japan, completing the task Nobunaga had sta
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taiko is a story set in the middle of the 16th century as the Ashikaga shogunate crumbled. As a consequence Japan came to resemble a huge battlefield as rival warlords vied for dominance. Three very different men emerged seeking to control and unify Japan. Those men were the brutal, rash, and charismatic Oda Nobunaga; the cunning Toyotomi Hideyoshi; and the patient Tokugawa Ieyasu. Their divergent leadership styles are eloquently expressed in the answers to this question presented at the beginni ...more
It is definitely a major work, one can imagine how hard it was for Yoshikawa to try to piece the past together, and make up lines beyond history. One can imagine that the real history is somewhat like that, but I believe one would be gravely mistaken to take this AS history. Sometimes people forget. There are many aspects that should have been expounded more, but not. i believe it is important for readers to feel what the harsh realities of a samurai soldier life is, and the power politics among ...more
Peter Tieryas
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is simply amazing. I'll try to write a longer review later, but I was riveted from page 1. Hideyoshi is such a fascinating protagonist, unlike any of the samurai of his time, which is part of why I love this so much.
Csaba Sali
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was browsing aimlessly in a bookstore when I first tumbled across Taiko. I never read any Japanese historical fiction before, so I thought that this would be a great opportunity to widen my horizon. I was very pleased that I did.
This book absolutely sparked my interest in the era of the shogunate. The detail with which Yoshikawa tells of the customs and honorary codes of the samurai had me intrigued. It was refreshing to learn of a culture so different to that of 21st Century Western society.
Daniel Swenson
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book on a historic period of feudal strife in Japan. I wasn't sure I'd finish all 926 pages, but I did. I agree with those who say the names are a challenge, the main character's name changing twice as a good example. It's somewhat repetitive with one campaign following the next, one castle being taken after another, etc. That being said, the various subordinate characters are interesting, and throughout, the book conveys a strong sense of what it must have been like to live in Japan during ...more
Hideyoshi aka Taiko is the boss! That's all you need to know and you should have a good memory for names and places :).
Pratik Dash
In mid-16th century Japan, the Emperor rules by tradition, the shogun rules by law: but the true master of the realm is Chaos. This tumultuous and violent epoch of Japanese history is known the Sengoku Jidai (the Warring States period). The zeitgeist of this era can be encapsulated by the Japanese phrase: “花は桜木人は武士” (Hana wa sakuragi, hito wa bushi; which means, as among flowers the sakura (cherry blossom) is foremost, similarly, among men the warrior is considered the best.”

David S
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As suggested in the title, this is a truly epic tale of the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the era of civil war in 16th century Japan in which he was a prominent player. Much as with Yoshikawa's novel on Musashi, the author breathes life into the historical figures that he portrays in the book. The character of Hideyoshi is very likable, though not without his faults. Hideyoshi has a charming ability to bend and break the rules of social convention to his advantage and extricate himself from imp ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent historical novel of the Sengoku period of Japanese history. The book centers around the life story of Hideyoshi (aka Taiko), the second of the three great unifiers of Japan, the first being Oda Nobunaga and the third Ieyasu Tokugawa.

The story begins with Hideyoshi as a young child, and ends with him at the age of 50 as he has overcome the last great obstacle between him and his rule of Japan. Interestingly, it does not cover the dozen years of his rule that followed, exc
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprisingly approachable historical novel for a 1200+ page century old novel that includes over 100 figures from the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan. I came in knowing a fair amount about the period, knowing the major figures like Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hideyoshi, Nene, etc. Characters were easy to remember and manage near the beginning of the novel, but at some points I forgot the allegiances of some of the minor characters that popped up. But compared to something like Romance o ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As its title says, Taiko is a truly epic novel about the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who went from what is basically the peasant version of a samurai to regent of Japan. The book starts with his childhood and follows his quest to become a 'proper' samurai in a rather humorous way. After he joins the Oda clan, the focus shifts to the bigger theatre and affairs of state until his victory over Tokugawa Ieyasu (who later started the Tokugawa Shogunate which lasted until the 19th century). The epilogu ...more
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
as a fan of Japanese culture and Japanese martial arts, this book was clear choice as soon as i knew about it. it couldn't be bad maybe, but as skeptic i read first page before i really decide if i'm going to continue or not. already first page caught me and never let me go. it's awesome book explaining why samurai era was that short, but still deserves that much respect. i think anybody can read and like this book, not only persons like me, interested in martial arts or Japanese culture.
Martha Sockel
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
As shown by Musashi, Yoshikawa Eiji was one of the best loved writers in Japan.

Hideyoshi is a plucky warrior that the reader can't help but root for as he seems to be the only man capable of carrying the fantastic task of unifying Sengoku Japan. The book, like Yoshikawa's, other works pushes all the right buttons.

Hideyoshi is always keener, smarter and less prey to emotional breakdown than other characters. The purported various romances promised on the dust jacket never come true.
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute must read for anyone who want to see Sun Tzu's Art Of War in practice.

This book gives an accurate picture of the waring period of japan, when provincial warlords vied for the title of shogun. The book follows the struggle of Hideyoshi in his attempt to become a samurai of worth, which he achieves (and then some).

Although a book about about Hideyoshi it also delves into the lives of the other warlords, notibly the the great Oda Nobunaga who had a reputation for both ruthl
Victor Bruneski
Everything that can be done right, is done in this book. Which is pretty amazing considering it is translated from Japanese.

It's about Hideyoshi, a person from humble origins. This is first and foremost a Historical Fiction, but it is more then that. The novel is very inspirational. Hideyoshi is like the "Rudy Ruettiger" of Shoguns. It had a feel good thing going on, even if it was about civil war in Japan.

The battles and politics of Sengoku Japan are well played out here. If you ar
Rebecca Huston
I really enjoyed this one, despite the fact that it is very long -- more than a thousand pages on my Nook. This crafts the story of Hiyoshi, a man who came from poverty and low status to become the most powerful man in sixteenth century Japan. Told from Hiyoshi's view, we see how he used his quick wits and ability to learn to overcome early failures, and his relationships with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu make for fascinating reading. If you like smart storytelling and exotic locales, this i ...more
May 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What i love about this book that it's based on true story, a story about a young (very naughty) peasant that dreams to be somebody famous. Turns out from his hard work and his smart ideas he reached to the top and became one of the greatest ruler of Japan.

This book shows that everything starts from a dream and we can be whoever we want to be as long as we work hard (starting from the bottom) and be smart, but also be tactful.
Margaret Sankey
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am embarrassed it took me this long to read this, given all my complaining about bad historical novels and wanting to read as close to sources as possible. While Clavell's Shogun was a more fictionalized account of the ascent of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, centered on a European, this is the same story by a Japanese author, centered on the Japanese characters and adhering to the contours of history. Epic, massive in scope and richly detailed.
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gives you a very clear and magnificent outlook on feudal Japan. I felt everything with the characters - their sorrow, happiness, love, fury. Needless to say that the history of Japan is, for me, one of the most interesting.
An excellent book. The writing style just gives me the chills on the important occasions the characters have.
An excellent read. A must do for every japanese culture lover.
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yoshikawa is one of Japan’s greatest historians who died in 1962. His work is now starting to hit American shelves, but you need to be careful of the translator. A good one makes the book an incredible read, as in this example – however, a bad one is just not worth your time, as in another readily available one called “Musashi”. Taiko tells the story of Hideyoshi, who lives in the sixteenth century and winds up becoming the ruler of Japan.
Victor Hardjono
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Please be reminded that it's a BIG and THICK book, about the size of serious dictionary from Oxford or Merriam-Webster. No paperback, pocket-size version available. So, yeah, it takes a strong will to start read it.

But afterwards, you won't put it down. Well, unless you hate to read foreign names, hate to read novel with hundreds (or at least dozens) of characters in it, never have any interest on Japan, or just too lazy to pick it up.

Long story short: superb!
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished at last! It took me around a year to finish reading this novel.

Taiko tells the story of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, one of the great generals of 16th century Japan. The novel details the life of Hideyoshi from being a lowly sandal bearer of Nobunaga until he became the Taiko.

Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very large tomb that follows the life of a simple peasant who rises to lead a nation. Sometime the large array of characters become difficult to follow along with all the names of the places in the book but if you persist you will be well rewarded. A fascinating look into the past. Also recommend Musashi by the same author.
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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.
“Her only weapons were her tears.” 17 likes
“The summit is believed to be the object of the climb. But its true object—the joy of living—is not in the peak itself, but in the adversities encountered on the way up. There are valleys, cliffs, streams, precipices, and slides, and as he walks these steep paths, the climber may think he cannot go any farther, or even that dying would be better than going on. But then he resumes fighting the difficulties directly in front of him, and when he is finally able to turn and look back at what he has overcome, he finds he has truly experienced the joy of living while on life's very road.” 15 likes
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