The Spirit of Budo1 min read

In 1947 I went round the secondhand bookshops in the Kanda district of Tokyo, which had miraculously survived the bombs, and bought many books on Budo and Zen. These books were now almost given away, and the whole group of ideals had been discredited. I began to translate some of these materials-no easy task. Already in 1946 I had published some short essays in small magazines. At first, editors asked for articles about the decorative arts or about ‘how Japan has changed’. But quite soon they were attracted to the theme of Budo. One of my earlier writings, ‘The Maxims of Saigo3 ‘, became rather well known. In 1956 my First Zen Reader, a collection of translations, was brought out by Charles Tuttle in Tokyo and had a big success. It was followed by a number of other writings-translations and some essays of my own.

This book consists of 18 articles which have appeared in the monthly Budo magazine and are reproduced here by the kind permission of the editor and my friend Mr. Kisaburo Watanabe. My thanks go to Mr. Katsuo Tamura, President of the Simul Press, for his co-operation. It may seem daring for a foreigner to write on Budo. Yet there are parallels in history. Ask anyone for the composer who uniquely represents the spirit of Hungary, and they will answer ‘Franz Liszt’. But he was taken from Hungary when a baby and could hardly speak a word of Hungarian: he was in fact a foreigner. Still, even true Hungarians find his Hungarian Rhapsodies worth listening to. May it be so with the 18 essays which are presented in this book