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Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

4 posts
Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

Travelling the path of Musashi

*Note: This itinerary doesn’t follow Musashi’s life in chronological order due to travel logistics. It does however, begin and end at his place of birth and death.

The trip begins with a flight to Osaka, Japan. Depending on when flights arrive (day or evening) will dictate on which day the true itinerary begins.

Day 1: Mimasaka

Visit Musashi museum/shrine; believe to be the birthplace of Musashi. (About an hour visit)

Depart Osaka by train [Japan Railways Limited Express operates a train from Osaka to Mimasaka, every 4 hours. Tickets cost $30 - $45 and the journey takes 1 h 37 min.] It is ten minutes on foot from Chizu railroad Miyamoto Musashi Station.

Taxi to Hirafuku – 30 min ride from Mimasaka to Hyogo Sayo-cho in Hirafuku.

At the age of 13 years old, Musashi challenged Kihei Arima who practiced Katori Shinto Ryu. Musashi attacked with a staff, and Kihei defended with a Wakizashi. Masashi threw Kihei to the ground with his

Train to Himeji – (2 hours) dinner and overnight in Himeji

Day 2: Himeji

In his 30’s; Musashi helped in the construction of Akashi Castle and helped organize the layout of the town of Himeji. During his stay, he taught martial arts, particularly kenjutsu and shuriken throwing, and he perfected his Enmei-ryu kenjutsu style.

Visit castle and local sites.

Train to Sekigahara 2.5 hours. (0vernight in Sekigahara town)

Day 3: Battle of Sekigahara

Sekigahara was the biggest, the bloodiest, the most violent and most important of all samurai battles, fought between the factions of a nation divided in two, East and West. 30,000 samurai lost their lives in six hours of fierce fighting on October 21, 1600 when the two great forces clashed on the small plain at Sekigahara.

The day starts at the Sekigahara Town History and Folklore Museum, fine exhibits and detailed information on the battle, its participants and the weapons and armor used. Musashi fought for the losing Toyotomi in the battle.

Train to Kyoto 1 hour (overnight in Kyoto)

Day 4: Defeat of the Yoshioka

Seijuro Yoshioka – This duel was fought with bokken (wooden sword) and like many instances of one-on-one combat at the time, was not meant to be to the death. Both warriors agreed beforehand that the winner would be declared by a single blow which was promptly administered by Musashi, who broke Seijuro’s arm in the process.

Denshichiro Yoshioka – As the brother of Seijuro, Denshichiro soon challenged Musashi in order to regain honor for his family name. This time the duel would be to the death and as was his custom, Musashi won the fight easily, killing his opponent instantly with a head blow and leaving the reputation of the Yoshioka Ryu in ruins.

Matashichiro Yoshioka – The new head of the Yoshioka Clan challenged Musashi to a night battle at Ichijoji temple, Musashi suspected a trap but accepted anyway. The entire Yoshioka School armed with swords, bows and rifles attempted to ambush Musashi while Matashichiro acted as bait. Musashi then charged Mataschirchiro and cut his head clean off. Surrounded by the boy’s retinue, he then drew his second sword and cut himself a path through the men trying to kill him before escaping into nearby rice fields. Musashi destroyed the entire Yoshioka School and ended their entire sword style forever.

Visit IchiJoji Temple - Site of duels with the Yoshioka)

Visit Kyoto Imperial Palace -The former residence of the Emperor and the Imperial family of Japan before the move was made to the Tokyo Imperial Palace during the Meiji Restoration in 1869.

Visit any other ad-hoc sites in Kyoto (time permitting).

Day 5: Duel at Ganryo Island

Miyamoto Musashi's most famous duel was against Sasaki Kojiro, his greatest and most skilled opponent. It was said that Sasaki fought many duels against Japan's best and never lost.

The two greatest swordsmen agreed to fight, and the duel took place on April 13, 1612 on Ganryu Island, located off the coast of the Bizen Province. The duel was set for early the next morning.

On the day of the fight, Sasaki Kojiro and the officials serving as witnesses waited for Musashi for hours, Miyamoto Musashi was transported to Ganryu Island on boat by a local fisherman, and, as part of his strategy, he arrived late. During the short trip, he sculpted a wooden sword which he used for the duel.

When the boat finally arrived, Sasaki and the officials were standing on the beach waiting for Musashi. Extremely irritated and blinded by rage, Sasaki Kojiro drew his katana and threw away his scabbard. Musashi saw this gesture and said to his enemy. "If you have no more use for your sheath, you are already dead."

Musashi provoked Kojiro into making the first attack, and then countered quickly, breaking Kojiro's left ribs and puncturing his lungs, thus killing him.

Early morning train from Kyoto (4 hrs with ferry to Island and station transfers)

Visit location of Duel on Ganryu Island, then head back to Kokura.

Visit Kokura castle

Train to Kumamoto City (2 hours) overnight in Kumamoto

Day 6: Book of 5 Rings and Death of Musashi

In 1643 Musashi retired to a cave named Reigandō as a hermit to write The Book of Five Rings. He finished it in the second month of 1645. On the twelfth of the fifth month, sensing his impending death, Musashi bequeathed his worldly possessions, after giving his manuscript copy of The Book of Five Rings to his closest disciple. He died in Reigandō cave around June 13, 1645 (Shōhō 3, 30th day of the 4th month).

Samurai Swords Tour (full day)

www.explore-kumamoto.com/samurai-swords-tour/ Contact: explorekumamoto@gmail.com

Visit Matsunaga Genroku sensei – a master swordsmith in the city of Arao, watch and learn how a traditional samurai sword is made from iron smelting to the finished blade. You will also have the chance to try hammering out a piece of red hot steel. You will then watch a display of ‘tameshigiri’ cutting techniques by Mr Matsunaga’s students. Tour includes visit to Reigando cave.

Train to Osaka - End of formal Itinerary

Tentative dates: Sept 29th – October 9th (dates may change)

Cost estimations:

Hotels (3 stars)

 Osaka - $60-$100 per night

 Himeji - $60- $80 pe night

 Sekigahara - $75-$90 per night

 Kyoto - $95 - $120 per night

 Kumamoto - $60- $80 per night

Japan Rail Pass (7 day) $260

Flights to Osaka (NYC – Osaka) roundtrip approximately $1100

Average meal cost (mid-priced restaurants) $10-$30

Overall estimated cost: $2350 (doesn’t include alcohol or miscellaneous activities)

If interested in coming along contact me: pathofmusashi@gmail.com

9 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
4,805 posts
9 reviews
1. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

Is this a business solicitation (it looks like one) or just a call for a travel buddy?

Edited: 04 August 2018, 22:38
4 posts
2. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

Its just a call for folks who would like to join a cool trip.

The costs listed are only there to give people an idea of the overall expenses associated with the trip.

The Samurai tours link is not something I am promoting, its just easier to logistically get to Reigando cave as part of a tour, as there are no direct trains to it.

Edited: 04 August 2018, 22:49
Level Contributor
4,391 posts
335 reviews
3. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

Thank you for putting together an interesting itinerary. In another era, I might have signed up, but....

BTW do you have an idea where the original "shrike on a dead tree" picture is? That is a fascinating picture...

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
598 posts
99 reviews
4. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

I visited the Sekigahara battle site last month (where Musashi woke in the fog post battle) - VERY interesting.

To get anything out of the visit though you MUST thoroughly study about the battle and lead up to it before hand. Allow about 6hours minimum. I highly recommend you hire an electric bike from the Sekigahara battle information centre next to the station. Climbed up summit of Mt. Matsuo where the turncoats sat watching and waiting for their moment during the battle to switch sides.

The whole battle site is spread over a number of square kms and is really well signposted in english and Japanese. There are detailed glossy maps/guides available in English at the information centre - ask.

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
598 posts
99 reviews
5. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

At the site of each of the many different armies encampments they have the vertical battle flags of each Daimyo/army flying in the wind - even way up on the summit of Mt. Matsuo.

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
598 posts
99 reviews
6. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

I suggest buying and reading/studying Chris Glenn's book - Sekigahara for a good understanding of how it all unfolded. Study it up BEFORE you go there. Anyone going without any knowledge of the battle will get very little out of visiting...

4 posts
7. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

which pic?

4 posts
8. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

Thanks for the tips on Sekigahara, I will definitely take that good advice

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
598 posts
99 reviews
9. Re: Travelling in the footsteps of Miyamoto Musashi (trip)

I was there from 7:00am until 2:30pm on a Tuesday in early July. Did not see any other Sekigahara tourists at all anywhere - either Japanese or foreigners. Highly recommend you climb Mt. Matsuo to the top as from the lookout it gives you a complete view of the 'lay of the land' of the entire battle scene.

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