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as illustrated in the military chronicles


Sustained by their passionate belief in the salvation guaranteed by Amida Buddha, the Ikkō-ikki monto (adherents) welcomed fighting because their faith promised that paradise was the immediate reward for death in battle, and nothing daunted them. 

This book contains 101 carefully chosen illustrations of their unique and often neglected military culture, presented in a published work for the first time in a century and a half. They show fighting to a background of the sincere religious devotion that accompanied the military life of the Ikkō-ikki. So we see (and can almost hear!) the chanting of the nembutsu (the invocation of Amida Buddha) as the monto go to war at the urging of their priests. Prayers are flung across the moats of castles as if they were bullets and ghostly apparitions of terrifying saintly men hover above noble victims. 

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as illustrated in Hojo Godai ki

This book provides a unique insight into The Samurai Art of War through the 90 pictures in Hōjō Godai ki.  There are sword fights and gunfire of course, but there are also battles by night, ambushes, massacres and celebrations.  Religious rituals take place; martial arts students fight for supremacy; captives are taken and executed; daughters are sent off for marriage and pirates raid coastal settlements for slaves.  In this completely original work all 90 pictures depicting these topics and more are brought together for the first time in their true chronological order together with a detailed commentary.  



A Turning-Point in Samurai History

In this ground breaking book the famous yet misunderstood conflict is set in its true context. In 1441 the reigning shogun Yoshinori had been murdered by a jealous rival. The Bakufu (shogunate) had somehow survived, but Yoshinori was succeeded first by a son who never reached manhood and then by another young son called Yoshimasa. He was to reign for 49 years in a turbulent age. Yoshimasa had several armed conflicts to contend with, which culminated in a succession dispute over his own choice of heir. This launched the Ōnin War. 

There had been conflicts before, but what made the Ōnin War unique was the fierce street-fighting that went on within Kyoto itself. The battles were conducted from fortified mansions, which were surrounded by stout wooden walls and ditches and sported tall observation towers. In one such fight in the summer of 1467 eight cartloads of heads were taken as trophies, but within months the conflict deteriorated into a stalemate where night raids were launched and large stones were flung by catapult. 



The sword was never the samurai’s weapon of first choice in the grim reality of the Japanese battlefield, so this book will set the record straight and complement my earlier work by describing spears, bows, naginata, arquebuses and a handful of others that were used from time to time.

Did you know that samurai used battle axes?



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.




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. 





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.





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 (!!)

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