Day 12: Musashi Miyamoto

My favorite movie trilogy is called The Samurai Trilogy. It is about the life of a samurai that lived in the 1600s named Musashi Miyamoto. He won over 60 duels in his lifetime including his most famous Ganryu duel against one of Japan’s top swordsman of the time. In this duel, he used psychological tricks on his opponent, such as showing up late (extremely rude and probably angered his opponent). As he was being rowed out to the island where the duel was to take place, he picked up a piece of driftwood and carved it into a sword with his metal sword, then proceeded to use the wooden one for the duel. Historians also theorize that showing up late allowed him to have a stratigic position as both the water and the sun were at his back for the duel. Mushashi won the duel with a single blow that killed his opponent. After winning, he retired from dueling and took up the usual hobbies of painting, meditating, etc. He also spent the last year’s of his life in a cave writing a book, The Five Rings (an art of war style book).

It isn’t often that a samurai gets to retire, so I found it interesting to learn more about his life. We visited the cave where he wrote his book. It still remains pretty far from the closest city. Other important people have used the cave throughout the years (both before and after Musashi was there). The path leading to the cave has 500 statues, all unique, that are scattered all over the place. Just outside the entrance to the path, there was an antique shop / cafe. Both the food and atmosphere was great. It was a unique experience for the trip.

On the way back into Kumamoto, we stopped at a museum of art which had on display Mushashi’s swords, including the piece of driftwood used in the Ganryu duel. They had a few of his paintings, which were very good. We bought a book of his artwork. We stopped at another cafe just outside the museum, which was filled with artistic trinkets. This place was also very nice.