Shibumi by Trevanian


  1. Nicholai Hel helps his father commit suicide, and suffers both personal and political consequences as a result. Nicholai Hel is a young, talented espionage apprentice who wants to make his father proud. His father is a Japanese general and a master of the game of Go. As a young person, Nicholai studied Go under his father’s teaching, eventually becoming a master of the game himself. Nicholai also learned a number of Samurai-Influenced martial arts, numerous languages (including Chinese and Russian), and a host of other skills of stealth fitting a military spy or assassin. His father’s main teaching was something called “shibumi,” a characteristic of true manhood. “Shibumi” includes many aspects: intelligence, honor, and practical intelligence. His father encourages Nicholai to dedicate his entire life to cultivating “shibumi.”
Key Takeaways
  1. Shibumi = simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty
What I got out of it
  1. Really good read. The concept of shibumi resonates with me (effortless beauty) and is something I’ll try to incorporate as much as I can into my own life

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