So succinct are the author's insights that these writings have outlasted the dissolution of the samurai class to come down to the present and be read for guidance and inspiration by the captains of business and industry, as well as those devoted to the practice of the martial arts in their modern form.
TAKUAN SOHO (1573-1645) was a prelate of the Rinzai Sect of Zen, well remembered for his strength of character and acerbic wit; and he was also gardener, poet, tea master, prolific author and a pivotal figure in Zen painting and calligraphy. His religious training began at the age of ten. He entered the Rinzai sect at the age of fourteen and was appointed abbot of the Daitokuji, a major Zen temple in Kyoto, at the age of thirty-five. After a disagreement on ecclesiastical appointments with the second Tokugawa shogun, he was banished in 1629 to a far northern province. Coming under a general amnesty on the death of the shogun, he returned to society three years later to be, among other things, a confidant of the third Tokugawa shogun. WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON, the translator, was born in 1944 and grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in 1966, he was invited by a friend to join a three-month kayak trip up the coast of Japan from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. This eye-opening journey, beautifully documented in National Geographic, spurred Wilson's fascination with the culture and history of Japan. After receiving a B.A. degree in political science from Dartmouth, Wilson earned a second B.A. in Japanese language and literature from the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies in Monterey, California, then undertook extensive research on Edo-period (1603-1868) philosophy at the Aichi Prefectural University, in Nagoya, Japan. Wilson completed his first translation, Hagakure, while living in an old farmhouse deep in the Japanese countryside. Hagakure saw publication in 1979, the same year Wilson completed an M.A. in Japanese language and literature at the University of Washington. Wilson's other translations include The Book of Five Rings, The Life-Giving Sword, The Unfettered Mind, the Eiji Yoshikawa novel Taiko, and Ideals of the Samurai, which has been used as a college textbook on Japanese history and thought. Two decades after its initial publication, Hagakure was prominently featured in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog. Wilson currently lives in Miami, Florida.