Musashi's Mother

Musashi's Natural mother, Omasa, was the daughter of Shinmen Munesada, a minor local chieftain, who had been the lord of Takeyama castle, which was situated among the beautiful hills of the Yoshino district on the eastern border of Mimasaka province. Early in 1554, however, Munesada's domains had been overrun by the forces of Amago Haruhisa (1514–1561). Over the next few decades Munesada had made several attempts to recover what he had lost, but all of his efforts proved abortive. Dispossessed and disillusioned Munesada had passed away in 1558.

By the time Omasa's brother, Munetsura, had come of age the fortunes of the Shinmen were again waxing. Their first brake came with the death, in 1562, of Amago Haruhisa and then, in 1566, with the fall of their Amago stronghold of Tomida castle. Becoming enfeoffed to the powerful warlord Ukita Naoie (1529–1582), and later his son, Ukita Hideie (1572–1655), Munetsura gradually restored the standing of his clan in the region so that during the eighties and nineties, the Shinmen held possessions in the Yoshino district totaling some five thousand koku, had some sixty samurai in their service, and employed close to two hundred men and women.

It was around this time, somewhere during sixties that Musashi's father, Muni, entered Munetsura's service (see Musashi's Father). A great swordsman and a specialist in the art of fighting with the jitte, Muni proved a valuable retainer. He gradually climbed in rank until, somewhere around the early eighties, he had reached the position of commander in charge of some fifty warriors. It was probably around this time, too, that he married Omasa, for not long afterwards, in 1584, they had their first (and only) son, who received the name Bennosuke.

Sadly Omasa died in childbirth, so that she would never see how her son went on to become the one of Japan's most celebrated swordsman, known by the name Miyamoto Musashi.


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