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Miyamoto, Musashi

Born: 1584 AD
Died: 1645 AD
Nationality: Japanese
Categories: Soldier

1584 – He was born on the 13th day of June this year into the Hirata samurai family, in the village of Miyamoto. It is said that he may have studied at the Yoshioka Ryu School, which was also said to be a school Musashi defeated single-handedly during his later years, although this is uncertain.


1591 – He was raised as a Buddhist by his uncle, Dorinbo (or Dorin), in Shoreian temple, three kilometers away from Hirafuku.


1596 – He was 13, and Arima Kihei, who was traveling to hone his art, posted a public challenge in Hirafuku-mura. Musashi wrote his name on the challenge.


1599 – Three years later, Musashi left his village. His family possessions such as furniture, weapons, genealogy, and other records were left with his sister and her husband Hirao Yoemon.


1600 – A war began between Toyotomi and Tokugawa. Musashi apparently fought on the side of the Toyotomi’s "Army of the West", as the Shinmen clan (to which his family owed allegiance) had allied with them.


1604 – Musashi challenged Yoshioka Seijuro, master of the Yoshioka School, to a duel. Seijuro accepted, and they agreed to a duel outside Rendaiji in Rakuhoku, in the northern part of Kyoto on 8 March of this year.


1605 – From this year to 1612, he traveled extensively all over Japan in Musha Shugyo, a warrior pilgrimage during which he honed his skills with duels.


1611 – He began practicing zazen at the Myoshinji Temple, where he met Nagaoka Sado, vassal to Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki; Tadaoki was a powerful lord who had received the fief of northern Kyushu after the Battle of Sekigahara.


1612 – At aged approximately 28, he had his most famous duel with Sasaki Moiré who wielded a nodachi (a type of long two-handed sword). He came late and unkempt to the appointed place, the remote island of Funajima north of Kokura. The duel was short and Musashi killed his opponent with a bokken that he had made from an oar.


1614 – Musashi participated in the war between the Toyotomi and the Tokugawa.


1615 – He entered the service of Lord Ogasawara Tadanao of Harima Province, at Ogasawara’s invitation, as a foreman or "Construction Supervisor," after previously gaining skills in craft.


1621 – He defeated Miyake Gunbei and three other adepts of the Togun ryu in front of the lord of Himeji; it was after this victory that he helped plan Himeji.


1622 – His adoptive son, named Miyamoto Mikinosuke became a vassal to the fief of Himeji. Possibly this prompted Musashi to leave, embarking on a new series of travels, winding up in Edo in 1623, where he became friends with a Confucian scholar named Hayashi Razan.


1626 – Miyamoto Mikinosuke, following the custom of junshi, committed seppuku because of the death of his lord. In this year, Miyamoto Iori entered Lord Ogasawara’s service.


1633 – He began staying with Hosokawa Tadatoshi, daimyo of Kumamoto Castle, who had moved to the Kumamoto fief and Kokura, to train and paint.


1634 – He began to travel again, he settled in Kokura with Iori, and later entered the service of daimyo Ogasawara Tadazane, taking a major role in the Shimabara Rebellion.


1637 – The Shimabara Rebellion begun by the Christian peasantry began on the western island of Kyushu. Musashi’s sixth and final battle would have him supporting his son Iori and Ogasawara as a strategist, directing their troops.


1640 – Musashi would officially become the retainer of the Hosokowa lords of Kumamoto.


1641 – He wrote a work called the Hyoho Sanju Go ("Thirty-five Instructions on Strategy") for Hosokawa Tadatoshi; this work overlapped and formed the basis for the later Go Rin No Sho.


1645 – He passed away on the 19th day of May this year.



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