Late last year, thanks to the magic of Neflix, I saw a Japanese movie called "The Twilight Samurai." It was excellent and I recommend it highly. It's a drama of a working man disguised as a samurai tale. The samurai of the title is burdened by debt from his wife's funeral and does not make enough money as a clerk to pay it off. But his greatest joy is raising his daughters and watching them grow. Secretly, he's also a masterful swordsman, which will complicate his life further.
The film was a wonderful character study. For those wanting samurai action, it's there, but it's very restrained. It was one of my favorite films of last year. The movie was based off the stories of Shuhei Fujisawa, who wrote stories of samurai that reflected the problems of the lives of modern Japanese working people. He was one of Japan's most popular writers.
Thankfully, this March, Kodansha will be publishing "The Bamboo Sword and Other Samurai Tales." Here's the book description from Amazon:
EVOCATIVE, EXCITING, AND TENDER, THESE CHARMING TALES OPEN A WINDOW ONTO LIFE IN JAPAN AS IT WAS FOUR HUNDRED YEARS AGO.This is one of the books I'm most looking forward to this year. There's an article here about popular literature in Japan and how it relates to this book. Apparently, Fujisawa's work is seen as "reassuring," and the article talks about the use of cliches. The book is reviewed positively here.
This delightful collection of eight stories evokes life in early seventeenth-century Japan, a time when peace finally reigns after centuries of civil war. Tokugawa Ieyasu has defeated his rivals to become shogun, and is busily establishing the regime that ruled the country for the next two and a half centuries.
It is a period of political upheaval full of intrigue, rivalry, and betrayals. The samurai are still valued for their swordsmanship, and are a cut above the peasants, artisans, and merchants in the social hierarchy. Without battles to fight, however, these career warriors struggle to retain their sense of pride and meaning in life as they attempt to settle into mundane jobs and family life. Occasional flashes of the sword are tempered by the sympathies, conspiracies, kindnesses, and enmities arising between people from across the social spectrum.Fujisawa brings a distant culture richly to life, with characters that modern audiences the world over can relate to presented against a detailed, realistic historical backdrop.