Miyamoto Musashi is a traditional Japanese name; the family name (or school name), Miyamoto, precedes the first name (or artist name).
Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵), whose real name was Shinmen Bennosuke (新免 辨助?) was born on March 12, 1584 in Ōhara-chō in Mimasaka province and died on May 19, 16451. He is one of the iconic figures of Japan, a master bushi, calligrapher, renowned painter, philosopher and the most famous fencer in the country's history.
His full name was Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Harunobu (新免武蔵守藤原玄信?), Musashi-no-kami was an honorary (and obsolete) title dispensed by the imperial court making him the governor of Musashi province (in the area of present-day Tokyo).
Fujiwara is the name of the aristocratic lineage to which he belongs. Harunobu was a ceremonial name, similar to a compound name for a sinicized gentleman, notably used by all high ranking samurai and nobles.
Miyamoto Musashi's grandfather was a very good fencer related to the Akamatsu clan by his lord Shinmen Iga-no-kami who as a reward allowed him to bear his family name.
That is why Musashi signed the Book of Five Rings (Go rin no sho) with the name of Shinmen Musashi. Musashi's father was known as Muni. Today, he is also known as Munisai, a fictitious name which is a creation of the writer Eiji Yoshikawa.
For reasons that are unclear, perhaps because of the jealousy he had aroused around him, Munisai withdrew from the entourage of Lord Shinmen and retired to the nearby village of Miyamoto-mura.
It seems that Musashi was born there and this is the origin of the nickname given to him: Miyamoto Musashi. However, at the very beginning of the Scroll of the Land, in the Go rin no sho, Musashi writes: "I was born in Harima prefecture" (part of present-day Hyōgo). His place of birth is therefore subject to controversy.
His father died when he was 7 years old. Japanese researchers suggest that it was his stepfather. According to a legend, Miyamoto Musashi laughed at his father, a fencer, and ended up making him impatient. That day, Munisai was busy cutting a toothpick and, fed up with his son's mockery, he lost his temper and threw his knife at his son who dodged the weapon with his head.
Even more furious, Munisai would have thrown the blade again. But Musashi was able to avoid it again. His father was furious and chased him out of his home, forcing the boy to spend his childhood under the care of his uncle, a monk and monastery owner.
He fought in duels and killed for the first time at the age of 13 (against Arima Kihei in 1596). At the age of 16, he participated in the battle of Sekigahara (1600) which saw the victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu's army following the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Engaged in the losing side, he was left for dead on the battlefield but survived his wounds. Until the age of 29, he participated in about 60 duels, most of them with a wooden sword (bokken) while his opponents had real swords (nihonto).
He single-handedly challenged and annihilated the entire Yoshioka school of fencing, fighting 60 or more fighters (some sources mention that he killed 79 disciples of the Yoshioka style in the skirmish at the foot of the Parasol Pine at Kyoto's Ichijō-ji temple). It was there that he practiced for the first time - without being aware of it - his famous two-sword technique which he later developed.
His last (and most famous) duel took place on April 13, 1612 against the other greatest fencer in Japan, Sasaki Kojirō, whom he defeated on the island of Funa, probably with a long bokken, which was cut from an oar of the boat that brought him there, but the various accounts of this battle are not very sure. No reliable source gives Sasaki's name.
It is possible that he was called Kojirō Ganryū instead. Musashi went to the Hosokawa family and in particular to the daimyo Hosokawa Tadatoshi, a loyal family related to that of the Tokugawa shogunate. He entered only as a guest, which would explain the relatively modest pay he received for his services. He then stopped dueling.
In no text written by Musashi does he directly mention his opponents, except for Arima Kihei, the first one. He does not name Sasaki Kojirō or Shishido Baiken, nor the Yoshioka family, yet many of them have remained famous, integrated into his legend.
In one of his fights, Musashi confronts Nagatsune Hachiemon, a master spearman in the service of Tokugawa Yoshinao, from Owari province. After a conversation, they decide that a duel would be useless and, instead, Nagatsune invites him to play a game of go against his son, which Musashi accepts.
During the game, Nagatsune's son proves to be very talented and they are soon absorbed in the game, when suddenly Musashi cries out, "Don't even try!" Indeed, Nagatsune had sneaked quietly into an adjacent room and was about to stab his guest with his spear.
Having broken the momentum of his opponent, Musashi returned to the game without moving or saying anything else, much to the perplexity of his two opponents. Nagatsune having sensed that Musashi's skills were superior to his own silently admitted defeat and Musashi also won the go game.
It is also known that Musashi was gifted with extraordinary physical strength, necessary to slice through bones when using a sword with one hand. In a passage from the Nitenki, Lord Nagaoka asks Musashi to help him choose bamboo to make flagpoles.
At his request, the lord brings him all the available bamboos, about a hundred in total. Musashi throws them and makes a quick attack in the air: all the bamboos break except one, which he hands to Lord Nagaoka. Lord Nagaoka told him that this was an excellent way to test them, but that only Musashi could do it.
Afterwards, he was put in charge of an army corps of Lord Ogasawara and participated in the siege of Hara castle in 1638, during the revolt of the Christians, led by Amakusa Shirō.
After returning to Kumamoto, he devoted himself mainly to artistic activities, but it is known that he kept a sharp mind and certain physical abilities. For example, as an old man, Musashi was trapped on a roof during a fire; he used a beam or ladder to run lightly over it, making his way to another house.
Musashi had two adopted sons Miyamoto Mikinosuke and Miyamoto Iori. Miyamoto Musashi educated Mikinosuke and introduced him to Honda Nakatsukasa Taiyu (Honda Tadaoki), lord of Himeji castle in Banshu. Returning to Edo, Miyamoto Mikinosuke died in 1626 at the age of twenty by seppuku in the third year of the Kanei Era to follow his lord.
Minamoto Iori met the master in 1624 and was later employed by Ogasawara Tadazane. He was then promoted to the title of superior vassal of Ogasawara. He died in 1678. And Takemura Yoemon is said to have left evidence as a disciple.
Terao Magonojō, older brother of Terao Motomenosuke, a favorite student of Miyamoto Musashi who was entrusted with the Book of Five Rings (Go rin no sho), worked alongside Musashi and often trained with the kodachi, a type of short sword that broke under the master's bokken. Magonojo burned the original Go rin no sho on Musashi's orders, so the original version cannot be found9.
At the age of 59, in 1643, Shinmen Musashi-no-kami moved to Mount Iwato, located near Kumamoto, where he settled in the Reigandō ("Cave of the Spirit-Rock"). There he set up a low table and began, on the tenth day of the tenth month, to write the Book of Five Rings.
In the early spring of 1645, Musashi put his pain-ridden body to the test and began the arduous climb up the path to Reigandō Cave (霊巌洞, meaning "spirit of the cave"). In April of the same year, aware of his impending death, he wrote a courteous missive to the senior vassals of the Hosokawa clan:
"In my analysis of the Laws of the Two Swords, I have not supported my exposition with maxims and principles borrowed from Confucianism or Buddhism; nor have I repeated the hackneyed anecdotes that are all too familiar to practitioners of the military arts.
I have meditated at length on all the artistic paths and achievements. Consider this effort as a will to conform to the principles of the universe; and today, I really regret not having been better understood.
When I criticize my life's journey today, I am tempted to blame myself for an excessive investment in the warrior arts; this is certainly attributable to my martial syndrome. I have sought fame and it seems to me that I am leaving a notorious name to this unstable world.
Today, however, my arms and legs are worn out and I cannot but resolve, under the weight of the years, to stop teaching my school myself. Also, it seems to me, in these conditions, very difficult to envisage any project; I only wish to isolate myself from society and to retire in the mountains while waiting serenely for death, even if only for one day. I am grateful to you for seeing in these words the expression of my request.
- April 13, 1645. Miyamoto Musashi
Shortly after sending this letter to the addressees, Musashi undertook the final and arduous ascent of Mount Iwato, heading for the Reigandō cave where, isolated from the commerce of men, he serenely awaited death.
The man in charge of looking after Musashi's welfare during his last years of life was Matsui Nagaoka Sado no Kami Okinaga. Considering that Okinaga had once been a student of Musashi's father, it is not surprising that this vassal, and Yoriyuki, his adopted son, were entrusted with the care of the old warrior.
On a beautiful spring day, at the beginning of May, Yoriyuki, pretending to go on a hawk hunting trip, climbed the mountains, made a detour to the cave and "convinced" him to return with him. The old man had always made a point of fighting for his independence and now he was forced to go back down to the valley.
At this time of the year, the sun is scorching over Kyūshū, but Yoriyuki did not fail in his duty and Musashi was soon able to lie on his futon, on the floor in his residence in the old castle of Chiba, being cared for, under the benevolence of his disciples Terao Kumanosuke and Nakanishi Magonosuke.
On May 12, he called his students to give them his final instructions. He began by giving his swords as souvenirs to Okinaga Yoriyuki and his favorite student, Terao Katsunobu, he gave the work he had just finished, "The Book of the Five Rings", and to his brother Terao Kumanosuke, he entrusted "The Thirty-Five Articles of Martial Arts".
After dividing his possessions among his students, he put his personal belongings in order, took up a brush for the last time and wrote a small manuscript in one go. He entitled it "The Way of the Solitary" - or "The Way of Independence. The twenty-one maxims that make up this work are really a summary of his life experience, biographically and spiritually.
Musashi died on May 19, 16451, in his residence in the Chiba Castle compound. He was in his sixty-second year. In accordance with his last wishes, his body was dressed in armor and helmet, equipped with the six military accoutrements and was buried in Handagun, Tenaga Yuge village.
The priest Katsukawa Shunzan officiated at the occasion in Taihō-ji temple, and his tombstone is still in place today. It was not long before others close to the deceased warrior also passed away. By December of that year Hosokawa Tadaoki and Takuan Sōhō had passed away.
The secrets of how to handle the sword were not the prerogative of a few privileged students (Ishikawa Chikara, Aoki Jœmon, Takemura Yœmon, Matsui Munesato and Furuhashi Sozaemon). All of them were excellent swordsmen.
Thus, while The Book of Five Wheels and The Thirty-Five Articles of the Martial Arts were given as gifts to the Terao brothers, what he really passed on to each of his students was his own spiritual determination to clarify the cryptic issue of life and death.
With such a spiritual legacy as this, the master's teaching could not have resulted in the emergence of a true school with its own rules, certificates and diplomas. Musashi could teach his techniques, give advice, but ultimately it was up to the student to measure his own strength, to evaluate his Way, and to make it his own.
Thus, the Musashi style is still taught today, but the true content of Niten Ichi-ryu disappeared along with its founder. How could it be otherwise? When he was teaching in Owari, Yagyū Hyōgonosuke pointed this out, who declared:
"Musashi's sword belongs to him alone and no one else could wield it so effectively".
In the Japan of Musashi's time, a major mutation affected the armament. During the second half of the sixteenth century, wick muskets , recently introduced by the Portuguese, had become the decisive weapons on the battlefield; but in a country at peace the samurai were able to turn their backs on the firearms they disliked, and renew their traditional idyll with the sword (nihonto (日本刀, "Japanese sword").
Fencing schools flourished (Budō, The budō (武道). However, as the possibility of using the sword in actual combat diminished, martial skills gradually became martial arts, which increasingly emphasized the importance of inner self-control and the qualities of fencing for character building, rather than military effectiveness. A whole mystique of the sword developed, more related to philosophy than to war.
In the strategy of attacking without attacking, Musashi talks about how, with an imperceptible movement, one moves from one position to another in a smooth and fluid manner:
"you must adopt an attitude that allows you to move to another mode of combat without having to make a conscious decision. You must be available and not favor one particular technique over another. A warrior has only one objective - to destroy the enemy by whatever means.
Fluidity implies the total absence of hindrances, especially at the level of the mind. Not to create the chains that will constrain our mind, not to make it rigid. In the Book of the Wind, the author evokes this principle:
"Knowledge of sword attack techniques [...] is undesirable in the martial arts. Thinking about the various ways to slay the opponent confuses the mind.
It is detrimental to specialize in certain guards. Creating immutable truths in a hurry has nothing to do with the Way of Victory.
By fixing the mind on a specific place, they confuse it and contaminate the martial art."
An anecdote about Musashi and Takuan Sōhō16 (a prelate of the Rinzai sect, close to the bushi, founded on the 28th patriarch Bodhidharma or Daruma) illustrates these words. While they were discussing the virtues of Zen and its applications in daily life, the priest suggested that the swordsman attack him with a wooden sword. Takuan would defend himself with his fan alone.
It is reported that Musashi, while on guard, found himself very embarrassed in front of Takuan and did not manage, despite his changes of guard, to find a way out. Takuan, for his part, stood there, motionless, fan in hand, arms relaxed.
After a while, Musashi finally threw down his weapon in disgust and declared that he had not found the opening to infiltrate. Takuan's mind was everywhere and therefore nowhere; and in this state of perfect fluidity, he had become unassailable.
Without a doubt, Musashi meditated at length on this "confrontation. It was on the strength of this experience that he wrote:
"Without fixing your mind anywhere, strike the enemy quickly and decisively."
This gives us a different perspective on the line from Kamo no Chōmei - "If the flow of the river is infinite, the water that flows is in perpetual motion" - a reading certainly prized by the old anchorite.
"The Way of victory is to work out the difficulties of your enemy."
By the time he was thirty years old, Musashi had already won sixty singular duels and, by his own admission, this feat was not due to physical strength, superior speed or unusual gifts.
Wandering on the roads of Japan, one can think that he thought long and hard about the mindset of his opponents and - let's not forget - about his own. It is this capacity for introspection, combined with a natural curiosity and a constant search for the essential that distinguished him from his contemporaries. This is the reason why his concise work is so successful today.
In addition to these principles, he also spoke at length about the importance of taking the initiative in combat, the importance of really experiencing each of the weapons at the warrior's disposal, of perceiving the different rhythms, of having both a global and a precise point of view, and, above all, of reading the opponent's mind with an open book without letting him read yours.
Musashi believed in a sum of principles, not a combination of tricks and other devices, and he valued substance and essence over form and presentation. The principles that his experience allowed him to discover appear in The Book of Five Rings, whether explicitly or implicitly.
To understand the content of the book, read it carefully, through the filter of our own experience. Doesn't the author write:
"A simple reading of this book will not allow you to reach the essence of martial arts. As you skim the lines, consider that the content is specifically addressed to you and do not be satisfied with a simple skimming.
Soak up their teaching and do not try to imitate it. Consider the principles as your own, as if they were the fruit of your own reflection, and constantly strive to experience them on a physical level."
Toyotomi Hideyoshi succeeded Oda Nobunaga who was assassinated in 1582. Concerned about a possible colonization of Japan and the revolt and conversion of several lords, he issued a decree banning Christianity on July 24, 1587.
Missionaries were forbidden to stay in Japan and only trading ships from Christian countries were allowed to enter. The massacres were considerable and lasted for several decades. Japan closed its doors to the outside world, favoring two hundred and fifty years of peace.
Miyamoto Musashi, born in 1584 in Ōhara-Cho in the province of Mimasaka is entrusted with the command of an army corps of Lord Ogasawara, and participates in the siege of Hara Castle in 1638 against the revolt of Christians led by Shirō Amakusa.
Finally he returned to Kumamoto and devoted himself mainly to artistic activities as a guest of the patron Hosokawa Tadatoshi , third lord of Kumamoto and descendant of Hosokawa Gracia, a prominent figure who had converted to Christianity. He left a work that is now a Japanese national treasure.
His fame allowed him to discover, as a spectator, other arts in which he showed a certain interest. This was the case for Chinese ink painting, sculpture and garden art. It was during this period that he met the famous artist Kaihō Yūshō.
He was a renowned calligrapher and painter whose sumi-e productions can still be admired. His paintings were inspired by Liang Kai and the Kanō school, which was in vogue at the time. One of his best-known works is his depiction of Daruma, the founder of Zen, which was reportedly praised by Lord Hosokawa as a pure masterpiece.
He designed a garden in Kumamoto, which was destroyed during World War II.
Musashi, would follow in the tradition of the great traveling artists of the Japanese archipelago - Saigyō Hōshi, Enkū, Matsuo Bashō and Hiroshige, among many others - and his source of artistic inspiration from the heart of nature itself.
It is not known exactly when Musashi began to wield the brush, although at the early age of thirteen he executed a portrait of Daruma (達磨) at the Shōren-in temple in Harima province, the place where he took up residence following his departure from his father's home.
It is assured, however, that by the time he entered Kokura in northern Kyūshū in 1634, he was gifted with unusual talents. All the paintings that have come down to us through the centuries are indeed between that year of 1634 and the master's death in 1645.
According to Zen Buddhist painters, in suibokuga, the brushstroke reveals the temperament that animates the artist and the spirit is spontaneously embodied in the utensil. Convinced that the Way of the sword was a sesame to the other artistic Ways, Musashi maintained that fundamentally, the brushstroke and the sword stroke were identical: can we not, in both cases, read the artist's mind openly?
His work as urban planner of the walled city of Akashi, for the Ogasawara in the areas of defensive strategy and garden art earned him a certain notoriety, which is why, a few years later, the Honda Clan, installed a few kilometers away, in Himeji, offered in turn the services of the artist.
Without relaxing the efforts he devoted to the maturation of his own style, he worked in Himeji on the town planning of the walled city and designed the gardens of some of its temples. Both the Ogasawara and Honda clans respected Musashi deeply and valued his services.
As he approached 40 years of age, it seems that the time he shared between the new walled cities of Akashi and Himeji could be counted in years. One can imagine that his fame and prestige were considerable. In these conditions, he was certainly able to preserve his freedom by maintaining the status of "guest" rather than by assuming that of "samurai ".
In search of live models, the artist could go to the banks of the river that still flows east of Kumamoto Castle. At the time, the river was a natural expanse; geese, ducks, and other birds flourished there in great numbers.
These and many other paintings by the master are now housed within the walls of the Eisei Bunko Museum, which serves as a repository for the treasures amassed by the Hosokawa clan since the fourteenth century.
He is the author of several texts on the sword and its strategy:
These texts are primarily study manuals employed in his sword school. Many martial arts were inspired by his works.
He is the author of a strategy book, Go rin no sho , written at the age of 60, translated into French as Livre des cinq anneaux or Traité des cinq roues. The title is read in Japanese as Gorin sho, but the translators have adopted the current Japanese reading of Gorin no sho.
Towards the end of his life, he meditated and introspected on his past and his experience; he deduced that the principles he had implemented in his martial art (duels) could also be implemented not only in military strategy (mass confrontation) but in all fields.
The "five rings" or "five circles" refer to the five tiers of Buddhist funerary monuments (gorintō) that represent the five elements of Japanese tradition. The book thus has five chapters:
At age 60, Musashi wrote his testament of sorts through the Treatise of the Five Wheels. Two years later, feeling his end approaching, he wrote the Dokkōdō (The Way to be Followed Alone):
He founded the Niten Ichi Ryu school, whose main branch is the Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu. Hyōhō Niten Ichi Ryu is translated as "the School of the Strategy of Two Skies as One Earth". Today, a lineage of masters descends directly from Musashi's disciples.
This sword school, a koryu of kenjutsu, was first called the "School of Two Swords" (Niken Ryu), then the "School of Two Heavens" (Niten Ryu). It remains renowned for its unusual style: simultaneous use of two swords, one short, the other long. The hyōhō, from Hyōhō Niten Ichi Ryu, means "strategy" and is a key teaching in the school.
There are also several schools around the world with the suffix Niten Ichiryu, but they do not officially have any sort of heritage link to Hyoho Niten Ichiryu. Some schools are authentically descended from Miyazawa. Some schools are authentically descended from Miyamoto Musashi without being the "mother" branch and are considered as koryus.
They transmit their teachings with the permission of the soke and must expressly demonstrate their lineage of transmission and the formal agreement to teach from the soke of that branch. Any inaccuracy or withholding of such information is indicative of improper teaching in its reference to the Musashi school.
The Musashi school transmits its experience through its technique and spirit. To transmit only the technique is a serious amputation of the founder's teaching which distorts the deep meaning of a koryu: "In Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, the successor must dedicate himself to training and prove to his contemporaries, by his example, that the founder's teaching and kokoro are absolute and authentic. This is my mission as a soke.
Thus, the soke alone is able to explore the many meanings of this teaching because he alone possesses the transmission of the spirit that authenticates the gesture.
The student's goal is then to approach Musashi's experience with the guarantee that the knowledge inherited from the soke offers. For this reason, every teacher of the Hyoho Niten ichi Ryu or of any authentic branch of the Niten Ichi Ryu must cultivate a learning relationship with the grandmaster of his branch.
Seishin chokudo: "Sincere heart, Right Way (誠実な心、正しい方法) ".
Musashi's teaching can be reduced to nine principles:
The principles are to be studied, the bokken in hand, with a master. The special feature of the koryūs teaching is that the sōke is expected to embody and prove his mastery with each generation.
Miyamoto Musashi created a series of seiho, commonly called katas:
Musashi designed a pair of bokken with a lighter weight and thinner profile33. All of the school's sword seiho are performed with the bokken and not the katana. Musashi's favorite bokken still exists today, a magnificent object made of dark wood, with a hole in the handle for a purple silk tassel; it is nicknamed Jissō Enman no Bokutō, after the inscription on the omote side.
Long passed down from soke to soke, it represents the desire to preserve the Niten Ichi Ryu style as is, without modifications or adaptations. Designated a National Treasure, it now sits as a relic at the prestigious Usa-jingū Shrine for its preservation.
Of course, Musashi also personally wielded steel weapons. One of his acquaintances was the famous blacksmith Izumi-no-kami Kaneshige, who was the teacher of Kotetsu, another renowned artisan.
The katana nicknamed Musashi Masamune is sometimes associated with him, although this is uncertain (Musashi's name could have come from somewhere else, and the Masamunes were fiercely jealous of the Tokugawa clan).
It is also known that at one point in his life, Musashi wore a daishō forged by Nagakuni, it is inscribed on their nakago (silks) "Shinmen Musashi-no-kami used this". The daitō appears to be in a museum, while the shōtō is privately owned by a Japanese collector named Suzuki Katei. Their authenticity is admitted and Musashi really was the owner.
When he died on May 19, 1645, the stories of his exploits had gone through some forty years of peddling and embellishment; and, as the Tokugawa government established its political and cultural power, and as Japanese society as a whole moved towards ever greater conformity,
the fame of a man who had certainly become the greatest swordsman of his time without claiming any inheritance or teaching, and without sacrificing his freedom on the altar of social recognition, could not but swell. Equally important in the genesis and maturation of the myth was the growing interest in leisure and recreation at that time.
"Aspire to be like Mount Fuji with a base so broad and solid that the strongest of earthquakes cannot shake you, and so great that the greatest of ordinary men's undertakings will seem insignificant from your highest perspective. If your mind can rise as high as Mount Fuji you will see all things very clearly. You will be able to perceive all the forces that set events in motion, not just those that preside over what is happening near you."
- Miyamoto Musashi.
On May 20, 2000, at the initiative of Tadashi Chihara sensei the Miyamoto Musashi Budokan was inaugurated the day after Miyamoto Musashi's birthday (March 12, 1584, Ōhara-Chō - May 19, 1645)36. It is built in Ōhara-Cho in the province of Mimasaka the birthplace of the samurai.
Inside the building the life and journey of Miyamoto Musashi are recalled everywhere. Dedicated to martial arts, the Budokan gathers all the official traditional schools of sword and kendo in Japan. Practically, historically and culturally it is a junction for martial arts disciplines in the heart of traditional Japan dedicated to Musashi.
The combination of the Tokugawa Pax - characterized by pervasive government control over the various strata of social life - and relative economic prosperity - especially among the merchant class - led to a certain amount of excitement and an increased demand for entertainment.
Public entertainment took on new forms, and even though Japan already had a plethora of heroes who could be used as alibis for a plot, the need for novelty was still felt.
The burgeoning legend of Musashi was timely. Less than a century after his death, his biography - sometimes overly embellished - was brought to the stage in kabuki and bunraku, peddled by professional storytellers. His character was also recurrent on the newest woodcuts produced for an audience of insiders. In these artistic genres, his popularity continued for over two centuries.
Modern times and new media have only accentuated this already growing popularity. Beginning with Eiji Yoshikawa's best-selling Musashi (宮本武蔵), the swordsman, artist and writer that he was, was placed at the heart of countless storylines: novels, movies, series, TV programs and games, and even a multi-volume comic book.
The very foundation of the man was too good not to be embellished anyway; so much so that everyone seemed to want to monopolize his character.
Thus, over the decades and with the technological evolution of the means of communication, the Japanese public - joined by the Western world - did not want to let such a legend die out.
Under the Tokugawa shogunate, an era of peace and prosperity resulted in the emergence of an urban and merchant bourgeoisie. This social and economic evolution was accompanied by a change in artistic forms, with the birth of ukiyo-e and printmaking techniques allowing for inexpensive reproduction on paper, a far cry from paintings such as those of the aristocratic Kanō.
Miyamoto Musashi inspired Japanese painters including Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a great master of ukiyo-e.
Noh has evolved in various ways in popular and aristocratic art. It will also form the basis of other dramatic forms such as kabuki. After Zeami set the rules of Noh, the repertoire became fixed towards the end of the 16th century and still remains intact to us.
Master Kano Tanshū, a Noh actor of the Kita school, created a play dedicated to Musashi, Gorin-sho-den, in Aix-en-Provence in 2002. In September 2008, he performed Miyamoto Musashi's Gorin no sho outdoors by the river in Kokura (Fukuoka), the place where this samurai lived.
One of the two protagonists in the 2003 film Aragami, by Ryūhei Kitamura, claims to be Miyamoto Musashi.
Usagi Yojimbo, by Sakai Stan, Paquet, 2005, 25T, is a nod to the philosophical warrior in the guise of the anthropomorphic rabbit named Miyamoto Usagi (usagi means "rabbit").