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Culture Japan: The Ultimate Samurai Guide

An Insider Looks at the Japanese Martial Arts and Surviving in the Land of Bushido and Zen

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Part Samurai history, part martial arts guide, this is THE book for anyone interested in Japan's fabled Samurai culture.

Author Alexander Bennett is the ultimate insider, holding multiple black belts in Kendo and Naginata as well as a Ph.D. in Japanese literature and history. In this book, he shares his vast personal experience and knowledge with readers seeking to undertake their own personal quest in the Japanese martial arts.

Bennett outlines the history of Bushido and the Japanese Samurai from early times up until the present. Then, as only someone steeped in this world can, he surveys the contemporary martial arts scene and provides the essential knowledge young foreigners need to find a teacher and learn a martial art successfully in Japan. Unlike any other book on this subject, Japan The Ultimate Samurai Guide is written by a Japanese speaker who has studied and taught martial arts in Japan for many decades.

Chapters include:
  • The Real Samurai
  • The Concept of Bushido
  • Development of the Japanese Martial Arts
  • Martial Arts Masters You Should Know About
  • Budo in Japan Today
  • Key Martial Arts Concepts
  • Life in a Japanese Dojo
  • A Japan Survival Guide
Written in a down-to-earth and easy-to-read style, this book will captivate anyone interested in Japan as well as martial arts teachers and practitioners around the world.

About the Author:
Alexander Bennett first came to Japan from New Zealand in 1987 as a 17-year old high school exchange student. On a whim, he decided to try his hand at kendo even though he had never seen it before, because it looked "cool", like something out of Star Wars. Overcoming the initial language and cultural barriers, he survived many ruthless training sessions meted out by the club's sensei—and yet the more he learned, the more he sensed that there was so much more to Budo than meets the eye. Acutely aware that he had merely scratched the surface, he soon returned to Japan at the age of 19 to embark on a "spiritual journey" of personal discovery. Bennett has since immersed himself for the past 25 years in the world of Budo—the traditional Japanese Martial Arts. He holds the black belt grades of Kendo Kyoshi 7-dan, Iaido 5-dan and Naginata 5-dan. He has competed successfully in many international naginata and kendo competitions, taking second place in the World Naginata Championships in 2011, and best 8 in the team event at the World Kendo Championships in 2012. He co-founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Kendo World, the world's first English-language journal dedicated to kendo. He has received two doctoral degrees in Japanese literature and history from Kyoto University and the University of Canterbury (NZ). He is currently Associate Professor at Kansai University where he teaches courses in Japanese history, martial arts, and Budo theory. He is Vice President of the International Naginata Federation, International Committee Member of the All Japan Kendo Federation, Director of the Japanese Academy of Budo, and he represents NZ Kendo as the Head Coach.


Latest reviews

  • Highly entertaining and well-researched
  • Brilliantly illustrated
  • Fascinating even for non-practitioners
Alexander Bennett is one of the foremost Western authorities on the history and practice of Japanese martial arts. Sharing his insights accumulated over a period of more than thirty years, his oeuvre promises to become an indispensable guide for "gai-sam", the modern gaijin samurai. Unconventional in style and highly readable, Bennett expands on the history of bushido, on the origins of the samurai and the core concepts of their philosophy: these chapters will be of great interest to anyone with a penchant for Japanese history. Bennett further examines the role of martial arts in modern Japan, presenting the nine contemporary budo arts and taking a closer look at budo training in Japanese schools and at life at a typical Japanese dojo. His survival guide for Japan is essential for any foreigner seeking to survive in Japan: he covers accommodation, public transportation, drugs, insurance, etc. and - most invaluable - learning the Japanese language thoroughly. Abundantly illustrated and immensely entertaining, I enjoyed the book very much. Highly recommended.
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Additional information

Alexander Bennett
Tuttle Publishing
Year of publication
July 10, 2018
Number of pages
1,900 JPY

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