Tuesday 11 October 2022

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Helion’s webstore!!!!!

I thought I’d shaken off the Samurai bug a long time ago, but it seems that like the town of Amity Island in Jaws it’s definitely not safe to go back into the water, or in this case, Helion’s web store. 

‘The Shogun’s Soldiers, The Daily Life of Samurai and Soldiers in Early Edo Period Japan, 1603-1721 Volume 1’ is a tremendous book and one the author Michael Fredholm von Essen should be justly proud of. This is not simply a regurgitation of previously published aspects of Japanese military history but a new examination of the organisation, arms, armour, dress and daily life of the samurai and the soldiers and commoners in Edo-period Japan. The book also explores the events and reasons that led the Tokugawa shogunate to retreat into itself and begin a policy of self-imposed isolation, and stagnation, from the rest of the world.

The book is divided into chapters on the Shogun’s army, the people of Edo, the city and housing and public services, and these last two chapters are my clear favourites as they contain much around fascinating social history which I had hitherto been unaware of and makes an enlightening read, especially if you have an interest in seventeenth century Japanese policing, plumbing, latrines and garbage disposal to mention just a couple of subjects.

The military side of things are not ignored, and there is an in-depth examination of the army, it’s structure, organisation, training, weapons, equipment and armour. Of course being from Helion, the book is beautifully illustrated throughout, with a vast array of colour images of original arms and armour, contemporary colour and black and white drawings and eight specially commissioned colour plates by Giorgio Albertini depicting various samurai and ashigaru in different forms of dress and equipment. These are gorgeous.

In short, this is an excellent and inspiring book on a most complex subject, and the author has done a skilful job in bringing it to life in a scholarly but very readable way. I look forward to seeing volume 2 when it is released.

…..and I am NOT going to start a new Samurai project!

ISBN 978-1-915070-33-3 348 pages, paperback.

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