the secret history of the Lord of Musashi [book review]

This 1931 book, The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi (武州公秘話) by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, is a hilarious pastiche of Japanese historical novels. I saw it in a Paris bookstore near my son’s and bought it without realising how much of a gem it is! I actually thought it was connected with the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, whose life is novelised by Eiji Yoshikawa at about the same time, but the connection is most tenuous, if any. This novel is about the fascination of a brilliant young samurai for noseless severed heads (!), so-called “woman-heads”, and their cleansing by young women, which turns into an erotic fetishism. And pushes him to first acquire such a head, although he only manages to bring the nose (!!),  and then seduce the spouse of his former lord by cutting his nose, spouse whom he contacts through the most unromantic route to her apartment! While (according to Bing!) collecting noses of fallen enemies was common at the time of the Sengoku period and while (according to ChatGPT!) Sasaki Kojirō, the defeated protagonist of the last duel of Miyamoto Musashi, is rumored to have cut his own nose after his duel (in the versions where he does not die), I see the book (which I quickly read) as a great satire of more austere historical novels of the time. I will most certainly seek other tales of Tanizaki in a near future!!!

4 Responses to “the secret history of the Lord of Musashi [book review]”

  1. Hiroaki Minato Says:

    Hello, Christian! A typo—Miyamoto, not Myamoto. Miyamoto and Sasaki are the last names, though written first in the post, while Tanizaki and Yoshikawa are literally the last names. Just for clarifications… Your Japanese editor, Hiro

  2. Happy to share. What do you think?

    • Thanks, sounds interesting, I’ll get a look, but it is annoying TNYT opted for a “live” reproduction of ChatGPT output.

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