Wabi Sabi – Beth Kempton

I really enjoyed Andrew Juniper’s book on Wabi Sabi, and this was only 99p, so why not add it to ‘The Pile’?

Beth’s Page

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The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura

The Japanese do make the nicest tea i’ve ever tasted: organic ceremonial grade matcha is perfection.

I read this book years ago and seriously need to give it a re-read soon.

Okakura’s Page

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell

And onto David Mitchell’s fifth book…

It’s certainly a change from his other books, being based in Japan at the end of the 18 Century at the Dutch East India Company’s island/trading post, Dejima.

When the Shoguns closed Japan to westerners they left Dejima as the only doorway into Japan for Europe’s trade, and it was the Dutch who ran Dejima.

The book centres around actual historical events, but names and dates are changed to allow David to weave his tale.   And the tale takes us inside ancient Japanese nefarious occult beliefs and practices as we follow our protagonist and his love for a Japanese midwife who becomes entrapped within the cultists’ lair, all the while having to deal with the political machinations within the interplay between Dejima, Nagasaki and the Shogun in Edo.

Once more, a great piece of story telling from this incredible writer, and a also an incredibly interesting look inside the life and work of Dejima itself at a very interesting time in Japanese history.   Well worth a read after you’ve read David’s first four books, but do expect something rather different.

And i’m now embroiled in David’s 6th book, ‘The Bone Clocks’, which is more in style with his first four books and i’m enjoying immensely.   I’ll let you know what i think soon.

David’s Page

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Ikigai – Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

It looks interesting.

I’ve always found Japan and its history a fascinating subject for reading about. I’ve never been, if life ever throws the opportunity my way i’ll definitely go.

Héctor García’s Page Francesc Miralles’ Page

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The Zen Experience – Thomas Hoover

Been quite a while since i read this, but do remember it being a very interesting read on the history of Zen. It tells Zen’s full story through fascinating tales of its most influential masters of its various historical schools, all the way from its roots in India and into modern Japan.

If more people read about the history of the world’s religions instead of fighting over them the world would be a much nicer place.

Thomas’ Page

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The Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy – Miyamoto Musashi

Another book that’s sat on my Kindle for years unread. But having just finished David Kirks’ books it really felt like the right time to read this.

It’s hard to judge this book in any real contemporary terms because it simply has no place in the contemporary world.   It’s an anachronism from a time and place that is no more and will never be again.

It is aimed solely at the samurai warrior, but maybe there are those who are ultra competitive who do contact sports, and also military personnel, that could still gain a lot from reading it — which doesn’t apply to me.

It is, however, an incredible view into the mind of one of the greatest strategists (swordsmen) from Japanese history, and it really gives you the genuine thoughts and attitude of a Samurai in regards to fighting and killing with swords.   It’s probably the most amoral thing i’ve ever read, and in that aspect alone it’s quite wonderful because it is so genuine and fascinating.

Musashi’s Page

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Sword of Honour – David Kirk

I loved this book. Far better than ‘Child of Vengeance’.

Looking back over the 2 books, it felt to me like David gained in confidence writing tales about Musashi and also that, the more he wrote, the more he came to know him better: like he’s beginning to get inside his head more.

But then i suppose the first book was more about Musashi the youth, just beginning to find himself, and this book is more of Musashi as a young man puzzling over what he’s found and finding more, and this reflects well in the writing of both books.

Once again, David’s writing is superbly descriptive without overdoing it.   Just like the first book, the story just keeps on moving and i just didn’t want to put it down: there are no pregnant pauses awaiting within, it’s just full gas all the way: find a comfy chair and buckle in.

I do hope book 3 in this series won’t be too long, i’m hooked!

But, in the meanwhile, i’ve found ‘The Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy’, written by the real Miyamoto Musashi, and i’ll be diving head first into that now.

David’s Page

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Child of Vengeance – David Kirk

David has taken the tales of Miyamoto Musashi and created his own story from these, so some of this is loosely based in what is told of the real man and some of this is based entirely from David’s imagination.

All told, it works really well, but there just seems a step too far here and there, which, for me at least, was distracting a little.   While it has been compared to Shogun by some, for me, it just doesn’t have that same level of believability to it.

But then, if i want the real tales of Musashi then i could, of course, go and read them.

It certainly keeps you reading.   It’s pretty much non stop without the annoying pregnant pauses of most stories and David really does portray the period very well.

All in all, i got this book and the next in the series for 99p each on Kindle — which is an absolute bargain for this kind of story telling — and i’ll be diving back into Musashi’s world in the second book of this series, ‘Sword of Honour’, later today; i’m looking forward to it very much.

David’s Page

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