Sasaki Kojirō (佐々木 小次郎, also known as Sasaki Ganryū) (c. 1585 – April 13, 1612), often anglicised to Kojirō Sasaki, was a prominent Japanese swordsman widely considered a master of his craft, born in Fukui Prefecture. He lived during the Azuchi–Momoyama and early Edo periods and is most remembered for his death while battling Miyamoto Musashi in 1612.
Fukui Prefecture, Japan
|Died||April 13, 1612 (aged 26–27)|
|Native name||佐々木 小次郎|
Sasaki went by the fighting name of Ganryū (巌流, "Large Rock style"), which was also the name of the kenjutsu school he had founded. It is said that Sasaki studied the Chūjō-ryu of sword fighting from either Kanemaki Jisai or Toda Seigen. Toda Seigen was a master of the kodachi. If Sasaki had indeed learned Chūjō-ryu from Seigen, he would have been his master's sparring partner. Due to his master's use of the kodachi, Sasaki used a nodachi, or a long katana, against him, therefore eventually excelling in its use. It was after defeating his master's younger brother that he left and founded the Ganryū. The first reliable account of his life states that in 1610, because of the fame of his school and his many successful duels, including once when he fended off three opponents with a tessen, Sasaki was honored by Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki as the chief weapons master of the Hosokawa fief north of Kyūshū. Sasaki later became skilled in wielding a nodachi, and used one he called monohoshizao ("The Laundry-Drying Pole") as his main weapon.
Sasaki Kojirō was a long-time rival of Miyamoto Musashi, and is considered the most challenging opponent Miyamoto ever faced. There are a number of accounts of the duel, varying in most details except the essentials, such as Sasaki's defeat. The age of Sasaki is especially uncertain – the Nitenki says that during his childhood, he
... received the instruction of Toda Seigen, a master of the school of the short sword, and having been the partner of his master, he excelled him in the wielding of the long sword. After having defeated his master's younger brother he left him to travel in various provinces. There he founded his own school, which was called Ganryu.
The Nitenki's account initially seems trustworthy, until it goes on to give the age of Sasaki at the time of the duel as 18 years old; it is known that two years earlier he had been a head weapons master for a fief – but then that would imply he had reached such a position at the age of 16, which is extremely improbable. A further complication is that Toda Seigen died in the 1590s. This unreliability of the sources means Sasaki's age could have varied anywhere from his 20s to as late as his 50s. Even worse, a number of scholars contend that identifying Seigen as Sasaki's teacher is a mistake, and that he was actually trained by a student of Seigen's, Kanemaki Jisai.
Apparently, the young Miyamoto, at the time, around 29 years old, heard of Sasaki's fame and asked Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki, through the intermediary of Nagaoka Sado Okinaga, a principal vassal of Hosokawa, to arrange a duel. Hosokawa assented, and set the time and place as 13 April 1612, on the comparatively remote island of Ganryujima of Funashima, the strait between Honshū and Kyūshū. The match was probably set in such a remote place because by this time Sasaki had acquired many students and disciples, and were Sasaki to have lost, they would probably have attempted to kill Miyamoto.
According to the legend, Miyamoto arrived more than three hours late, and goaded Sasaki by taunting him. When Sasaki attacked, his blow came so close as to sever Miyamoto's chonmage. He came close to victory several times until, supposedly, he was blinded by the sunset behind Miyamoto, who struck him on the skull with his oversized bokken, or wooden sword, which was 110 centimeters long. Miyamoto had supposedly fashioned the long bokken, a type called a suburitō due to its above-average length, by shaving down the spare oar of the boat in which he arrived at the duel with his wakizashi. Miyamoto had been late for the duel on purpose in order to psychologically unnerve his opponent, a tactic he used on previous occasions, such as during his series of duels with the Yoshioka swordsmen.
Another version of the legend recounts that when Miyamoto finally arrived, Sasaki shouted insults at him, but Miyamoto just smiled. Angered even further, Sasaki leapt into combat, blinded by rage. Sasaki attempted his famous "swallow's blade" or "swallow cut", but Miyamoto's oversized bokken hit Sasaki first, causing him to fall down; before Sasaki could finish his swallow cut, Miyamoto smashed Sasaki's left rib, puncturing his lungs and killing him. Miyamoto then hastily retreated to his boat and sailed away. This was Miyamoto's last fatal duel.
Among other things, this conventional account, drawn from the Nitenki, Kensetsu, and Yoshida Seiken's account, has some problems. Kenji Tokitsu discusses a number of obscurities and counterintuitive claims that have been identified in the account by him and previous scholars. Would Miyamoto only prepare his bokuto while going to the duel site? Could he even have prepared it in time, working the hard wood with his wakizashi? Would that work not have tired him as well? Further, why was the island then renamed after Sasaki, and not Miyamoto? Other texts completely omit the "late arrival" portion of the story, or change the sequence of actions altogether. Harada Mukashi and a few other scholars believe that Sasaki was actually assassinated by Miyamoto and his students – the Sasaki clan apparently was a political obstacle to Lord Hosokawa, and defeating Sasaki would be a political setback to his religious and political foes.
The debate still rages today as to whether or not Miyamoto cheated in order to win that fateful duel or merely used the environment to his advantage. Another theory is that Miyamoto timed the hour of his arrival to match the turning of the tide. He expected to be pursued by Sasaki's supporters in the event of a victory. The tide carried him to the island then it turned by the time the fight ended. Miyamoto immediately jumped back in his boat and his flight was thus helped by the tide.
Sasaki's favored weapon during combat was a straight-edged nodachi with a blade-length of over 90 cm (2 feet, 11.5 inches). As a comparison, the average blade-length of the regular katana are usually 70 cm (2 feet, 3 inches) but rarely longer. It was called monohoshizao (Clothes/Laundry-Drying Pole, 物干し竿, often translated into English as "The Drying Pole"). Despite the sword's length and weight, Sasaki's strikes with the weapon were unusually quick and precise.
His favorite technique was both respected and feared throughout feudal Japan. It was called the "Turning Swallow Cut" or Tsubame Gaeshi (燕返し, "Swallow Reversal / Return"), and was so named because it mimicked the motion of a swallow's tail during flight as observed at Kintaibashi Bridge in Iwakuni. This cut was reputedly so quick and precise that it could strike down a bird in mid-flight. There are no direct descriptions of the technique, but it was compared to two other techniques current at the time: the Ittō-ryū's Kinshi Cho Ohken and the Ganryū Kosetsu To; respectively the two involved fierce and swift cuts downward and then immediately upwards. Hence, the "Turning Swallow Cut" has been reconstructed as a technique involving striking downward from above and then instantly striking again in an upward motion from below. The strike's second phase could be from below toward the rear and then upward at an angle, like an eagle climbing again after swooping down on its prey. Sasaki created this technique around 1605.
Sasaki Kojiro has appeared in many forms in pop culture in Japan. He features in a lot of the films about the life of Miyamoto Musashi, most prominently in Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island.
In the manga Vagabond, Sasaki Kojiro is portrayed as a deaf man raised by a retired samurai after he is found in the ocean clinging to a long sword.
He appears as a cultured and soft speaking psychopath with a white painted face in Samurai Warriors 2.
In the PlayStation video game Brave Fencer Musashi, Sasaki appears as a result of a second "hero summoning" to save the princess of the Allucaneet Kingdom.
Sasaki Kojiro appeared in the anime Ken'yū Densetsu Yaiba.
Sasaki Kojiro also appeared as the Heroic Spirit 'Assassin' in the visual novel Fate/Stay Night. It's noted however, that he's more a nameless person summoned to fill the Role of Sasaki as it's mentioned it's highly unlikely Sasaki ever actually existed as a single person. However, in the mobile app game Fate/Grand Order, in the third part of its sequel, 'Epic of Remnant', he is featured as a Saber-class that fought Miyamoto Musashi as the final battle.
His technique, Tsubame Gaeshi, resurfaced as a boxing move in the Hajime no Ippo TV special, Champion Road.
In the video game series Dark Souls, a possible reference to Sasaki's sword is the "Washing Pole", which is a very long katana.
In Japanese releases of the video game series Pokémon, the move つばめがえし (Tsubame Gaeshi) is named after the technique. 'Swallow Return' is translated as 'Aerial Ace' in English versions.
In the Japanese version of the Pokémon anime, Kojirō of Team Rocket (James in the international versions) is named as such as a reference to Sasaki Kojirō.
In the video game Way of the Samurai 4, one of the swords is an extra long one called "Laundry Pole," probably based on Kojiro's famous long sword.
In the video game Onigiri, Sasaki Kojiro is obtainable as a vanguard partner; however, his gender has been switched to female, along with many other historical Japanese figures who appear in the game. His technique Tsubame Gaeshi is also a skill on the Oodachi weapon type.
Ashikaga Yoshihide (足利 義栄, 1538 – October 28, 1568) was the 14th shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate who held nominal power for a few months in 1568 during the Muromachi period of Japan. When he became shōgun, he changed his name to Yoshinaga, but he is more conventionally recognized today by the name Yoshihide.
Eiroku 11, in the 2nd month (1568): Yoshihide became Sei-i Taishōgun three years after the death of his cousin, the thirteenth shōgun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.Genzō Murakami
Genzō Murakami (村上 元三, Murakami Genzō, March 14, 1910 – April 3, 2006) was a Japanese novelist who was born in Korea during its occupation by the Empire of Japan. He is known for his historical novels as well as his influence on Japanese literature following the Second World War.
Murakami's debut novel, Tone no Kawagiri (利根の川霧), received an honorable mention for an award sponsored by the Sunday Mainichi. In 1940 he received the Naoki Prize for his novel Kazusa Fudoki (上総風土記, Kazusa Topography).During the American occupation of Japan, Murakami wrote a novel about the swordsman Sasaki Kojirō, a famous enemy of Miyamoto Musashi. The novel, which was serialized in the Asahi Shimbun and turned into a film in 1950, was notable as one of the few examples of jidaigeki that survived the strict censorship of the time. He became known as a standard-bearer for the revival of popular literature in the postwar period.
Murakami's well-known later works include Mitokōmon (水戸黄門) and Katsu Kaishū (勝海舟). His period work on Minamoto no Yoshitsune was made into a television drama by the Japan Broadcasting Corporation.
Murakami was recognized for his achievements by a Purple Ribbon Medal from the Japanese government in 1974 and he was an Order of the Sacred Treasures recipient in 1981. Murakami died of heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo on April 3, 2006, at the age of 96.Hiroaki Murakami
Hiroaki Murakami (村上 弘明, Murakami Hiroaki, born December 22, 1956) is a Japanese actor. He specializes in jidaigeki roles, and has also taken parts in tokusatsu and modern productions.
Born in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, he enrolled in Hosei University but withdrew when he successfully auditioned for a part in Kamen Rider. He made his debut as Tsukuba Hiroshi in Skyrider.
Hiroaki appeared in the NHK jidaigeki On'yado Kawasemi in 1980–81, and in a new series Shin On'yado Kawasemi in 1997. He appeared in Hissatsu Shigotonin Series 4 as the florist-turned-blacksmith named Masa, and as a repeating character in Series 5, as well as special episodes (1984–87). Five Taiga drama roles are among his credits. They are in Haru no Hatō (1985), Kōsaka Masanobu in Takeda Shingen (1988), Fujiwara no Kiyohira in Homura Tatsu (1993), Akechi Mitsuhide in Hideyoshi (1996), and Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu in Genroku Ryōran (1999). In the annual TV Tokyo New Year's spectacular, he portrayed Sasaki Kojirō in Miyamoto Musashi (1990), Kira no Nikichi in Jirōchō Sangokushi (1991), Yagyū Jūbei in Tokugawa Bugeichō Yagyū Sandai no Ken (1993), and Araki Mataemon in Tenka Sōran Tokugawa Sandai no Inbō (2006). Among the jidaigeki series he has starred in are Hatchōbori no Shichinin (2000–06), Zenigata Heiji (2004–05), Yagyū Jūbei Nanaban Shōbu (2005–07), and Shikaku Ukeoinin (2007). Additionally, he portrayed Oda Nobunaga in Taikōki Tenka o Neratta Otoko: Hideyoshi (2006).
He has appeared in more than fifteen films, including several in the Kamen Rider and Hissatsu franchises. Further films to his credit include Gokudō no Onnatachi 2, Juliet Game, and Iron Maze (In a Grove).Ii Naoyoshi
Ii Naoyoshi (井伊 直義, ? – February 4, 1545) was a Japanese samurai of the Sengoku period who served the Imagawa clan. He was the son of Ii Naohira.Kanemaki Jisai
Kanemaki Jisai (鐘巻 自斎, c.1536 – 1615) was a master of the Chujō-ryū fighting style. He was a student of Toda Seigen and teacher to Itō Ittōsai (possibly also Sasaki Kojirō).Katō Danzō
Katō Danzō (加藤 段蔵, c. 1503 – 1569) was a famed 16th century ninja master during the Sengoku period Japan who was also known as flying Katō (飛び加藤, Tobi Katō).Kojiro
Kojirō or Kojiro is a masculine Japanese given name. Notable people with the name include:
Kojiro Kaimoto (海本 幸治郎,) (born 1977), Japanese footballer
Kojiro Nakamura (中村 廣治郎), Japanese scholar of Islam
Sasaki Kojirō (Ganryu Kojiro, c. 1585–1612), Japanese swordsman famous for his rivalry with Miyamoto MusashiFictional characters:
James (Pokémon) (Kojiro Sasaki), a member of Team Rocket from the Pokémon anime
Kojiro Hyuga, a character from Captain Tsubasa anime
Kojiro Murdoch, a character in Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny anime
Kojiro, a character in The Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime
Kojiro, a character in Brave Fencer Musashi video game, a fictional personification of Sasaki Kojiro
Kojiro Vance, identified as the master of the spaceship Kobayashi Maru in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanOther
Sasaki Kojiro a 1967 Japanese drama film directed by Hiroshi InagakiKōsa
Kōsa (光佐, February 20, 1543 – December 27, 1592), also known as Hongan-ji Kennyo (本願寺 顕如), was the 11th head of the Hongan-ji in Kyoto, and Chief Abbot of Ishiyama Hongan-ji, cathedral fortress of the Ikkō-ikki (Buddhist warrior monks and peasants who opposed samurai rule), during its siege at the end of the Sengoku period. He engineered many alliances, and organized the defenses of the cathedral to the point that most at the time considered Ishiyama Hongan-ji to be unbreachable.List of samurai from the Sengoku period
A list of samurai from the Sengoku Period (c.1467−c.1603), a sub-period of the Muromachi Period in feudal Japan.Matsui Okinaga
Matsui Okinaga (松井 興長, 1582 – July 24, 1661) also known as Nagaoka Sado (長岡 佐渡) was a Japanese samurai who served the Hosokawa clan, during the early Edo period (17th century). It was Nagaoka Sado himself who had protected Miyamoto Musashi as for him to be able to duel against the famous Sasaki Kojirō in 1612. At one time on the battlefield during the year of 1638, Musashi had met Sado. Sado had known at the time that Musashi was living in the house of Ogasawara, but he had learned that it was Musashi's son, Miyamoto Iori who had been under the service of the Ogasawara, and that Musashi was there as a guest. Sado had also learned that Musashi had no true intention of entering under the lord's service, and that he was only taking part in that battle (Ogasawara establishment in northern Kyūshū) as a staff in order to be an advisor to his son. After Sado had then returned to the province of Higo, he began planning the steps to get Musashi into the service of his fief, since he had already known that Lord Hosokawa Tadatoshi was interested in him. However, Tadatoshi had been previously schooled in the wisdom of the feudal system, in which he ordered for Musashi to act prudently, because Musashi's current situation as he had known, was residing within the house of Ogasawara, in relation to the fact that it would be a major mistake to show discourtesy.
Sado started out by first sending a letter to Musashi, because the steps for employment had to be taken very discreetly. Musashi had politely responded saying that he had no intention of having a lord. During the year of 1639, Sado had passed through the region of Kokura—within Kyūshū province—on his official business. Sado had taken this advantage to visit the house of Musashi's son in order to see Musashi, to whom he had communicated the wish of his lord, as well as his own. After not receiving a true answer, Sado departed, with Musashi later accepting the Hosokawa offer, as a guest, not a vassal. However, near the end of his life, Musashi was formally received as a retainer of Lord Hosokawa.Matsunaga Hisahide
Matsunaga Danjo Hisahide (松永 弾正 久秀 1508 – November 19, 1577) was a daimyō and head of the Yamato Matsunaga clan in Japan during the Sengoku period of the 16th century.Miyamoto Musashi
Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵, c. 1584 – June 13, 1645), also known as Shinmen Takezō, Miyamoto Bennosuke or, by his Buddhist name, Niten Dōraku, was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, strategist, writer and rōnin. Musashi, as he was often simply known, became renowned through stories of his unique double-bladed swordsmanship and undefeated record in his 61 duels (next is 33 by Itō Ittōsai). He is considered the Kensei, sword-saint of Japan. He was the founder of the Niten-Ichi-Ryū-School or Nito-Ichi-ryū style of swordsmanship, and in his final years authored The Book of Five Rings (五輪の書, Go Rin No Sho), and Dokkōdō (The Path of Aloneness). Both documents were given to Terao Magonojō, the most important of Musashi's students, seven days before Musashi's death. The Book of Five Rings deals primarily with the character of his Niten-Ichi-Ryū-School in a concrete sense e.g. his own practical martial art and its generic significance; The Path of Aloneness on the other hand, deals with the ideas that lie behind it, as well as his life's philosophy in a few short aphoristic sentences.Musashi, the Samurai Lord
Musashi, the Samurai Lord, known in Japanese as Karakuri Kengō Den Musashi Lord (からくり剣豪伝ムサシロード, Karakuri Kengō Den Musashi Rōdo), is an anime series by Studio Pierrot. The 50-episode series aired on Nippon Television from October 1990 to September 1991.The series stars, Musashi, a "gimmick robot". In the country of Zipangu every person has a gimmick robot. Musashi battles and meets his rival, Kojiro (a reference to the historical battle between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō).
Two video games were released based on the anime.People of the Sengoku period in popular culture
Many significant Japanese historical people of the Sengoku period appear in works of popular culture such as anime, manga, and video games. This article presents information on references to several historical people in such works.Sasaki
Sasaki (佐々木) is the 13th most common Japanese surname. Notable people with the surname include:
Akira Sasaki (佐々木 明, alpine skier)
Daichi Sasaki (佐々木 大地, professional shogi player)
Daiju Sasaki (佐々木 大樹, born 1999), Japanese footballer
Daisuke Sasaki (佐々木 大輔, professional wrestler)
Sasaki Gensō (佐々木 玄宗, Zen master)
Hankyu Sasaki (佐々木 半九, Rear Admiral)
Hideo Sasaki (ヒデオ・ササキ, landscape architect)
Sasaki Hideyoshi (佐々木 秀義, samurai)
Isao Sasaki (佐々木 功, voice actor)
Kazuhiro Sasaki (佐々木 主浩, baseball player)
Kensho Sasaki (佐々木 憲昭, politician)
Kensuke Sasaki (佐々木 健介, professional wrestler)
Kizen Sasaki (佐々木 喜善, 1886-1933, folklorist)
Sasaki Kojirō (佐々木 小次郎, swordsman)
Kōrō Sasaki (佐々木 耕郎, politician)
Kyozan Joshu Sasaki (Rinzai Zen teacher)
Mamoru Sasaki (佐々木 守, TV and film screenwriter)
Makoto Sasaki (professional shogi player)
Miki Sasaki (佐々木 みき, volleyball player)
Mitsuzo Sasaki (佐々木 味津三, author)
Mikio Sasaki (佐々木 幹夫, chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation)
Mikirô Sasaki (佐々木 幹郎, poet and essayist)
Minoru Sasaki (佐佐木 登, commander)
Nanae Sasaki (佐々木 七恵, long-distance runner)
Nobutsuna Sasaki (佐佐木 信綱, author, poet)
Nozomi Sasaki (ささき のぞみ, voice actress)
Nozomi Sasaki (佐々木 希, model)
Nozomu Sasaki (佐々木 望, voice actor)
Ryuta Sasaki (佐々木 竜太, footballer)
Sadako Sasaki (佐々木 禎子, child victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima)
Seiichiro Sasaki (佐々木 精一郎, born 1945), Japanese long distance runner
Shigeo Sasaki (佐々木 重夫, mathematician who introduced the Sasakian manifold)
Sho Sasaki (佐々木 翔, badminton player)
Sokei-an Sasaki Shigetsu (曹渓庵 佐々木 指月, Rinzai roshi)
Tadahiro Sasaki (佐々木 忠広, boxer)
Takahiro Sasaki (disambiguation), multiple people
Sasaki Takatsuna (佐々木 高綱, samurai)
Sasaki Takauji (佐々木 高氏, samurai)
Sasaki Takayuki (佐々木 高行, Meiji period court official)
Tomio Sasaki (佐々木 富雄, born 1945), Japanese alpine skier
Toshiro Sasaki (佐左木 俊郎, author)
Yūki Sasaki (professional shogi player)
Yuta Sasaki (佐々木 佑太, mixed martial artist)Tateoka Doshun
Tateoka Doshun (楯岡ノ道順, Tateoka no Dōshun) was an intermediate-ranking Iga ninja during the Sengoku period. He is also known as Igasaki Doshun or Igasaki Dōjun (伊賀崎道順).In 1558, during the Siege of Sawayama, Tateoka Doshun and his 48 men (including four Koga ninja) entered the Sawayama Castle by the use of bakemono-jutsu (ghost technique) of making paper lanterns displaying the enemy's badge. Dressed as a samurai and carrying the lanterns, they walked in unchallenged, then set fire to the castle, allowing Rokkaku Yoshikata to make a successful assault. The same technique was also used by Matsudaira clan during the Siege of Kaminogō Castle in 1562. There is a popular rumour concerning the death of Tateoka Doshun that Tokugawa Ieyasu had Doshun assassinated by Hattori Hanzō during the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute for giving information to the Toyotomi clan.Tessenjutsu
Tessenjutsu (鉄扇術, lit. "iron fan technique") is the martial art of the Japanese war fan (tessen). It is based on the use of the solid iron fan or the folding iron fan, which usually had eight or ten wood or iron ribs.
The use of the war fan in combat is mentioned in early Japanese legends. For example, Yoshitsune, a hero of Japanese legend, is said to have defeated an opponent named Benkei by parrying the blows of his opponent's spear with an iron fan. This use of the iron fan was taught him by a mythological creature, a tengu, who had also instructed him in the art of swordsmanship.
The practitioners of tessenjutsu could acquire a high level of skill. Some became so skilled, in fact, that they were able to defend themselves against an attacker wielding a sword, and even kill an opponent with a single blow. Like so many other Japanese arts of combat during this era, tessenjutsu reached a high level of sophistication. For example, a famous swordsman in the late 16th century, Sasaki Kojirō, was able to defeat several enemies with an iron fan.
Apart from using it in duels against enemies armed with swords and spears, the skilled wielder could also use it to fence and fend off knives and poisoned darts thrown at him. Like a sword, the tessen could be dual-wielded to parry with one hand and attack with the other.
Tessenjutsu is still practiced by a few experts in Japan to this day.Vagabond (manga)
Vagabond (Japanese: バガボンド, Hepburn: Bagabondo) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Takehiko Inoue. It portrays a fictionalized account of the life of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, based on Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi.
It has been serialized in Weekly Morning magazine since 1998, with the chapters collected into 37 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha as of July 2014. Viz Media licensed the series for English release in North America and has published 37 volumes as of April 2015. Vagabond won a 2000 Kodansha Manga Award and the 2002 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, and has sold more than 82 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling manga series.Ōmandokoro
Ōmandokoro (Japanese: 大政所) was the mother of the Japanese ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Her daughter was Asahi no kata.
After her death, she received the Buddhist name Tenzui'in (天瑞院).