‘An Illustrated Guide to Samurai History and Culture’ brings the warriors to life in color

In Japan and abroad, the samurai are often romanticized as a monolithic group who held themselves to the high moral code of conduct known as Bushido (“the way of the warrior”). While this image holds true for some samurai, it was not always the case, and journalist and author Gavin Blair offers a nuanced view of their history in his latest book, “An Illustrated Guide to Samurai History and Culture.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about the samurai held by non-Japanese is “that they were fiercely loyal swordsmen who always lived by the strict code of Bushido,” Blair says. The samurai were first and foremost human beings, and the author suggests that their rules were sometimes an ideal rather than their reality, with many variations depending on the time period and the region in which they lived.

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