Years ago I had a book in my fingers that was somewhat similar to the Art of War by Sun Tsu, but it was from Japan, and focussed in part on specific combat situations and what to do then. So maybe it is better to be described as focussing on tactics than strategy. I think there were some odd bits about ranged combat in it just as much as there was hand to hand, mixed in between the combat advice. Yet I am pretty sure there were some things about combat terrain in it, which is why I remember it to be somewhat akin to Sun Tsu.

I know I read it after the Go-Rin-No-Sho by Musashi and before the Hagakure, so it is neither. It was most certainly a translation into German, possibly illustrated. The original it was written most likely before the Meji-restauration due to the content. I am not sure, but it might have had advice for firearms in as well, giving it a timeframe from ca. 1543 to 1868.

  • What I meant was, could have it been implemented with today's techniques (or the past's), or was it some kind of speculative book like "How to surround the enemy with dragons", "phalanx techniques when your soldiers have 6 arms" or "unreal" stuff like that?
    – Jenayah
    Oct 3, 2018 at 17:41
  • @Jenayah I know I got it in the context of Kendo, so I think it was (partly) focussed on duels that were rather unrealistic in warfare by the time of the Jigoku Shidai, which was when firearms came up... IF it would need to be moved, it would possibly also fit to History
    – Trish
    Oct 3, 2018 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


Heiho Kadensho

One possible candidate is A Hereditary Book on the Art of War / Heihō kadensho (兵法家伝書) by the samurai Yagyū Munenori. It was written in 1632, so it fits the time frame.

There is a German translation by Guido Keller entitled Der Weg des Samurai. Anleitung zum strategischen Handeln (Piper, 2004). This translation is not based on a Japanese edition but on the American translation The Sword and the Mind (Overlook Press, 1986). I couldn't find any illustrations in the limited preview on Amazon but I noticed that it has many endnotes in the Cleary edition.

The two main English translations are the William Scott Wilson edition and the Thomas Cleary edition.

Heihō Okugisho

Another one that exists in German is Okugisho. Die Kunst der hohen Strategie by the sixteenth-century general Yamamoto Kansuke. The German translation by Taro Yamada was published by Piper in 2005 but has apparently gone out of print. (It is no longer listed in Piper's website and there is no preview on Amazon.de.)

A review of an english edition on Koryu.com indicates that at least some editions are illustrated. Also, it does feature tactics for matchlocks:

Chapter two deals with various techniques and tactics for close-quarter combat (unarmed, with swords, staffs, spears and glaives, and use of the bow and matchlock gun)Koryo.com review

The German Wiki also has a short entry on the book.

Bushidō Shoshinshū (by Daidōji Yūzan)

Another possible candidate is Bushidô-shoshinshû by the samurai and strategist Daidōji Yūzan (1639 – 1730). In Scott Wilson's translation, the book is known as Budoshoshinshu: The Warrior's Primer. The link in this paragraph takes you to the entry in the catalogue of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, which says that the German translation was published by the Angkor Verlag in Frankfurt am Main in 2007. It also says, "Überarb. und ill. Neuausg.", meaning "revised and illustrated reissue".

Bushidō Shoshinshū (by Taira Shigesuke)

A different book by the same title was translated into English by Thomas Cleary and A.L. Sadler on two different occasions. A short comparison on these can be found on Koryo.com.

  • 1
    After careful comparison and reading up on the books, Heiho okugiusho is the most likely one of these, while the other ones (and the side find as I tried to find the other Bushidoshoshinshu) seem to be still worthy reads.
    – Trish
    Oct 4, 2018 at 18:44

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