Miyake Gunbei Gondayū

The only recorded match during Musashi’s brief stay at Himeji (though he probably spent much of his time in Hirafuku with his mother and his adopted son Mikinosuke) was with a certain Miyake Gunbei or Gundayū, a practitioner of the Tōgun-ryū, the Tōgun school of swordsmanship.

According to the Bisan hōkan, Gundayū was sent by Honda Tadamasa (1575–1631), the lord of Himeji castle, to test Musashi’s skill and see if he was suitable to enter his lordship’s service. It describes how Musashi makes the retainer wait in the anteroom of his house until he loses his temper and insists on a match. The same record claims that:


Musashi wielded a bokutō as they confronted each other in the garden. However, Miyake was no match for him and dropped his head in defeat. Thus he returned to Lord Honda Tadamasa, reporting that Musashi’s boastful claim that he was the greatest swordsman in the realm was only rightful.

Interestingly, the Nihon kendō-shi, published in 1925, also features Musashi’s meeting with a man with the surname Miyake, followed by a match in the garden of Musashi’s dwelling. In this version, however, the man’s given name is Gunbei, and not Gundayū. It describes how Gunbei opens the attack and Musashi gradually retreats until: 


Musashi had his back against the entrance and had no more room to back away. Convinced he had Musashi cornered Gunbei now lowered his bokutô and drew the weapon back to run him through the third time round, when Musashi shouted, “Look out,” and stabbed him in the face with his short bokutō. Gunbei’s jaw dropped as fresh blood gushed forward from the wound inflicted by the vigor of his own thrust. Musashi laughed and held back saying, “First wipe this blood away.”

Any queries of remarks? Launch or join a discussion at our new FORUM

 © William de Lange 2019    As an Amazon Associate miyamotomuashi.eu earns from qualifying purchases.