Every culture has their myths, legends and heroes. I’m not talking about manga or fantasy based heroes but actual Japanese heroes. These heroes probably aren’t like saviors of mass problems but they became legendary as warriors. Two of the most famous names in Japanese history were Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro. These two were renowned warriors at the time and paved their names in their own right. The most famous event that tied these two was their duel at the island of Funashima. Let’s get to know these two before we get to that part even further.
Miyamoto Musashi also going by the names of Shinmen Takezo, Miyamoto Bennusuke or Niten Doraku was born in Harima Province sometime in 1584. His name Miyamoto Musashi is derived from Miyamoto village where he was probably born and Musashi came from a monk named Musashibo Benkei. Musashi learned the ways of the sword under the guidance of his father at a very young age. Sometime around the age of 15 he left their house to travel Japan and hone his sword skills. He had numerous duels and encounters against strong warriors. It was in 1614 that Musashi pledged allegiance to the Tokugawa family where he then became one of their most loyal retainers.
In 1645 Musashi died with a cancer disease and wasn’t killed in action. One of his teachings was the Niten’ichi where he used two swords for fighting but regularly used one during his duels. We now take a look at Sasaki Kojiro who was presumably born in 1585 at the Fukui Prefecture. He also went under the name Garyu Kojiro which was sort of like his fighting name. His past and childhood are still unclear but he did learn wielding a sword at a very young age making him very skilled with a Nodachi. The Nodachi is a katana with a very long measurement compared to regular katanas. Despite his young age he became famous and renowned especially with one of his techniques called the Tsubame Gaeshi. The technique involved using 3 quick sword strikes imitating that of a swallow’s movement hence the English translation “Turning Swallow Cut”.
In 1612 was the fated duel between these 2 warriors. They had agreed to hold the duel at Funashima Island where one of them would eventually die. Musashi arrived hours late where some concluded that it was part of his strategy. The duel lasted in a short while as Musashi dealt a finishing blow to Kojiro at a point where he was blinded by the sun. There are several versions of the duel but one fact remains that Musashi had won it and Kojiro had died. These two are so famous that their names appear together most of the time in the forms of other Japanese media but that’s another story.