Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • ("What is most important to the heart of a warrior? To desire with one's very soul every second of every day to accomplish one's aim." - Yamamoto Tsunetomo, "Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai")

  • It's just after sunrise, and 16-year-old Mori Banshirô is already hard at work, practicing drills with his long sword.

  • Banshirô is an ambitious samurai in training, and today, he must impress his teachers more than ever.

  • Today, he'll make his request to travel to the capital city of Edo for a year of martial and scholarly studies, and he needs their support, along with his father's.

  • The year is 1800, in the castle town ofchi, capital of the Tosa domain in Japan.

  • The daimyo rules the domain, and about 1,500 samurai retainers serve him.

  • For 200 years, Japan has been at peace, and the samurai, once primarily warriors, now play a much wider range of roles.

  • They are also government officials, scholars, teachers, and even masters of the tea ceremony or artists.

  • To prepare for these diverse responsibilities, young samurai like Banshirô study the "twin paths" of literary learning and the martial arts.

  • At 15, he went through the rites of adulthood and received the daishô, a pair of swords.

  • The long sword is for training and combat, while the short sword has a sole, solemn purpose

  • to commit ritual suicide, or seppuku, if he dishonors himself, his family, or the daimyo.

  • Banshirô idolizes the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, a renowned swordsman who lived 150 years earlier.

  • But Banshirô doesn't admire his swordsmanship alone.

  • Miyamoto Musashi was also a master calligrapher and painter.

  • That's the real reason Banshirô wants to go to Edohe secretly wants to be a painter, too.

  • After finishing his practice at home, he bids his father goodbye and walks to school.

  • His father is preparing to accompany the daimyo to the capital.

  • The Tokugawa shogun, head of the Japanese military government, requires all the regional rulers to alternate years between their castle town in the home domain and the capital city.

  • The costly treks back and forth keep the daimyo subordinate and prevent them from building up their own military forces to challenge the shogunate.

  • The daimyo's wife and children live in the capital full-time, where they serve as hostages to ensure his loyalty.

  • But the practice doesn't just affect the daimyoit determines much of the rhythm of life in Japan.

  • Samurai must accompany the daimyo to Edo.

  • This year, it's Banshirô's father's turn to go, and Banshirô is desperate to go with him.

  • But given that he's still in training, he'll need permission from both his father and the domain.

  • At school, Banshirô's first lesson is in swordfighting.

  • Under his teacher's stern eye, he pairs up with his classmates and goes through the routines he's been practicing.

  • At the end of the lesson, he reminds the instructor of his request to go to Edo.

  • The instructor cracks his first smile of the day, and Banshirô feels confident he will gain his support.

  • Next, Banshirô practices archery, horsemanship, and swimming before his academic courses in the afternoon.

  • Courses cover Confucian philosophy, morality, and history.

  • When the instructor calls on him, he has the response on the tip of his tongue, ensuring another supporter for his campaign.

  • By the end of the day, Banshirô feels confident that his formal request will be approved, but the greatest challenge is still ahead of him.

  • Convincing his father.

  • His father believes the martial arts are more important than the literary arts, so Banshirô doesn't mention his artistic ambitions.

  • Instead, he talks about renowned sword instructors he can train with and teaching certifications he can earn to improve his professional prospects back inchi.

  • Then, he makes his final, strongest argument.

  • If he goes this time and succeeds, his father can retire and send him instead in the future.

  • It's his last point that finally sells himBanshirô's father agrees to take him on his tour of duty.

  • In the bustle of the capital city, Banshirô will finally have the opportunity to pursue his secret ambition to become a painter.

  • Travel 150 years further back in time and join forces with another group of elite and formidable warriors, the Cossacks.

  • Or, expand your knowledge of Japanese culture with this video on Kabuki dance drama.

("What is most important to the heart of a warrior? To desire with one's very soul every second of every day to accomplish one's aim." - Yamamoto Tsunetomo, "Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai")

Subtitles and vocabulary

Click the word to look it up Click the word to find further inforamtion about it