Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ichiryo Gusoku

I realized on this Labor Day weekend that I needed to catch up on an old point of business which I had started some time ago but never really talked about.

If you had not noticed, about a month ago I posted two new pages here at the blog:  One on "Ichiryo Gusoku" and the other on goals around this.  The concept is one that I have been working with in my mind for some time, have tried a couple of alternate attempts at, and then decided to connect them with my blog and how I am attempting to evolve my life.

What were the Ichiryo Gusoku?  They were the samurai of Chosokabe Motochika (1539-1599) of the Japanese Island of Shikoku.  The term literally meant “one fief, one suit of armor” – which meant the samurai who not only fought but also worked the land as farmers and only had enough land to support themselves, not any follower - or what we might think of, a sort of yeoman farmer who provided for himself and his family but served a higher cause.

“These rustic samurai were known as ichiryo gusoku, because what they possessed was “one fief and one suit of armor”.  They were essentially rough-and-ready characters, who armor came to pieces where the plates where laced together.  They only thing they  prized was courage in battle, and it is said of them that when they were working in the paddy fields they stuck their spears into the ridges between the irrigated sections and fastens their sandals to the shafts, so they could be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.” – The Book of the Samurai: The Warrior Class of Japan, Stephen R. Turnbull

The thought intrigued me as I was introduced to the concept because it combine two areas of interest to me:  my interest in sword arts and my latent interest in doing more to support my own lifestyle by what I produce for it.  As I continued to work through the concepts I came up with a set of goals (that is the other page) of ultimate ways I would like to directly provide for myself and my family.

The goals are a work in progress both of time and location:  where we are now we can only probably do a small fraction of what we I would like to do.  Still, putting them down - and more importantly, putting them out there - is a sort of goad to me to get on with the process.

As I have stated multiple times, I make no commentary on politics and few comments on current affairs on this blog.  That said, there is one truth that transcends all of this and is applicable:  the more has control of the components of one's life and what one needs to survive, the greater degree of freedom one controls over one's destiny.


  1. Nice. I am not all that familiar with Japanese swordplay or Oriental Feudalism but that sounds very close to the lower English form of Feudalism. Perhaps with a bit o Saxon mixed in.

  2. Interestingly Preppy, one of the moves that Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Tokugawa Ieyasu's predecessor) did was to make such people choose to be either a samurai or a farmer. Class distinction made people much more easier to control. The Tokugawa were also responsible for severing the link between the samurai and the land the held by making cash payments to them instead of having the rice deposited with them.


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