The Japanese Sword The Soul of the Samurai by Gregory Irvine

Some weeks back I spoke about one of the first martial arts books I ever read, this week it is the last.

Sensei Brinkhurst gave me this particular book during his recent visit, as he had just finished reading it while he was over and thought, I too, would enjoy it.

He was correct.

I did.

The book is published by the Victoria and Albert Museum and makes extensive use of their collection of Japanese weaponry; the author is the museum’s curator for their Far Eastern Department.

Essentially the book is extremely straightforward in its approach and offers little, if anything, in the way of new insight or interpretation.

What it does do, however, is give a very good and easy to read, (once you wrap your brain around the plethora of technical terms), history of the Japanese sword and of Japan in general and shows the interrelationship of the two.

There is a little too much repetition of straight factual information for my liking; not a problem if the book is being used as an occaisional reference work and you only read select sections at a time, but irritating if you are reading the entire work as a whole.

A minor flaw.

This is an excellent first book for anyone who wants expand their knowledge of Japanese swords and the people who made them.

And it has lots and lots of delightful pictures.

Sensei Eacott

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