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Japanese Mercenaries in Southeast Asia


This is the greatest untold story of the samurai: how a mixture of Japanese exiles and adventurers fought overseas during the seventeenth century. 


Their employers ranged from the Portuguese, on whose behalf they defended Malacca in 1606, to the Dutch, who hired them to capture the Spice Islands.  Other Japanese mercenaries formed the bodyguard of the King of Siam and commanded war elephants; while one very brave contingent defended the King of Cambodia against a Dutch-led raid.  

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TANAKA, 1587


In 1587 the 1,000-strong garrison of tiny Tanaka Castle held out for 100 days against an army ten times their size.  When the castle fell it was burned to the ground, and the memory of the epic struggle lived on only in the words of a little known war chronicle and in the folk memories of the local people who tended the warriors’ graves on the now anonymous hillside and told tales of ghosts and tormented spirits. 


In 1987 everything changed.  Prompted by the fourth centenary of the battle the local council began a systematic archaeological investigation of the castle site.  The finds were numerous, but the greatest discovery of all came in a distant library where a researcher unearthed what turned out to be Japan’s oldest surviving battle map. 


This book is the first full account in any language of this great, heroic yet unknown struggle.



Samurai versus Ashigaru is the provocative title of what is my fiftieth Osprey book.  It is in the Combat Series, which pits different types of warriors against each other. 


My theme is how large well organised squads of ashigaru (foot soldiers) armed primarily with matchlock muskets, overcame armies of mounted samurai.  The three battles I use as case studies are Uedahara, Mikata ga Hara and Nagashino. 

Hear a podcast of me talking about samurai.




This is a fun training manual for ninja, written as if I was a seventeenth century ninja Grand Master, which neatly gets round the question of whether ninja really existed.  

In this book you will find all the ninja weapons and tools, their survival skills and the great ninja raids of history, just as they appeared in the great ninjutsu manuals of the Edo Period.


It is illustrated by a wealth of contemporary woodblock line drawings  and prints that would have been available at the time, giving it a very authentic period feel.



NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK, Ninja: Unmasking the Myth is the long awaited replacement for my 1991 book on ninja. Most of the new material comes from my association with Mie University’s Ninja Research Project.  A treasure trove of information, which I have translated into English for the first time, has emerged about the cultural phenomenon on their own doorstep. 


One of the most interesting discoveries has been that the word shinobi (i.e ninja) appears in a Japanese to Portuguese dictionary published in Nagasaki in 1603.  So if someone tells you that ninja are an invention you can agree with them - but point out that the invention began over four hundred years ago. 





Someone at Thames and Hudson had a clever idea.  Why not rewrite my training manual as a book for children, using cheerful illustrations?

This is the result: So You Want to be a ninja?, produced by a talented manga team with a little help from me.

An ideal gift for any child to launch them on the right path (!!)