Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Musashi Readalong - Part 2

Readalong hosted by Jenners at Life...With Books.

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa - translated from the Japanese by Charles S. Terry.
With a foreword by Edwin O. Reischauer.
First published 1971.

The Classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.

The 970p volume is separated into seven different books and we're reading one for each 9 day period of the readalong.

Book 1 - Earth

Book 2 - Water

Although around 100 pages doesn't seem much a great deal is packed into them and I've come to the conclusion it's too difficult to try and summarise the story so going with a few thoughts in general.

1605 -Book 2 begins with Musashi's arrival in Kyoto at the renowned Yoshioka School of martial arts where he challenges and soundly beats up several students , escapes their wrath for now but has made enemies which its likely he will have to deal with in the future. This is the first of several similar occasions - later on his way to Yagyu he is ambushed by another group of angry ronin ......
'Musashi's sword screeched back and forth through the air, a reverberation in his own body telling him when he connected with human bone. Blood and brains spattered from his blade, fingers and arms flew through the air.'
This is the 'boy stuff' I feared I wouldn't like and I'm rather surprised I'm finding it all rather exciting and it is balanced out by other quieter and more reflective passages.

"in a large,dense forest of cryptomeria"
At Hozoin, a monastery and also a martial arts centre, Musashi meets Nikkan , an old priest who tells him ' Your strength is your problem. You must learn to control it, become weaker."

They share a meal and talk and Musashi comes away feeling ...' When it was only a matter of physical strength, I won, but I left there feeling defeated. Why? Did I win outwardly only to lose inwardly?'

Musashi has come a long way in five years and has matured considerably but he still has much to learn.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Book 2 was having so many of the characters from Book 1 return.
With all of them in the same area there are several near miss encounters which often reminded me of a French farce and adds some humour to the mix. As does the new character, Jotaro...........the lively, young boy  Mushashi has taken under his wing and who is accompanying him on his travels.
In the final stages of the book Musashi and Jotaro come to the castle where Otsu is staying.......Musashi hears her flute but, despite realising his feelings for her, he once again runs away.

Takuan shows up and tries to no avail to advise Otsu against continuing her pursuit of Musashi.

On to Book 3!


  1. I thought your wrap-up was wonderful. And I love the photo you included. I think I might try to do a little more "research" for my next post ... it has been neat to see what the other readalong participants have dug up.

    And I agree ... the sword fighting was balanced by the quieter sections ... but still oddly exciting!

  2. I also thought Book 2 was really hard to summarize. There was just so much going on!