Matsudaira Katsukata (1601–1666)

The  Bushū denraiki describes how, 

寛永の比、武州、松平出雲守殿の家にあり。雲州の家頼に多力の兵法者あり。雲州、彼と武州との勝負を望まる。

In the era of Kan’ei [1624–44] Musashi stayed at the house of lord Matsudaira Izumo no Kami [Katsukata]. Among the Izumo retainers there were a great number of heihōsha, and his lordship wished to see them have a match with Musashi.

It goes on to describe in great detail how Musashi won the match hands-down within moments. Disappointed with the outcome his lordship then takes up a bokutō to test his strength on the swordsman himself.

Born in 1589, Matsudaira Katsukata was only five years younger than Musashi and known for his great love of swordsmanship. He was the son of one of Ieyasu’s most senior vassals and had held a string of important positions within the Bakufu. In the spring of 1634, he had moved down to the province of Iyo, on the island of Shikoku, to take up temporary residence on the grounds of Matsuyama castle. The former lord of Matsuyama castle had passed away and the Bakufu decided that henceforth the Matsuyama domain was to be governed by a member of the Matsudaira, a clan from which the Tokugawa descended. It was Katsukata’s duty to prepare the hikiwatashi, the castle’s smooth transfer from one clan to another.

The  Bushū denraiki is the only original source to mention this encounter. To be true to the text, it only speaks of Matsudaira Izumo no Kami. This has led some to believe that Musashi was the guest of Matsudaira Naomasa, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu and the lord of Matsue castle. Matsue castle, after all, is located in what once was the province of Izumo, leading them to assume that the honorific title of “Izumo no Kami” must have referred to its master, Matsudaira Naomasa. This, however, is to ignore the fact that it was Katsukata who bore the title of Izumo no Kami, and not Naomasa (whose honorific title was Dewa no Kami). Katsukata’s clan, moreover, was related to the Ogasawara (Tadazane’s fourth son was adopted by Katsukata’s oldest brother), and it is very plausible that he and Musashi met at Akashi castle.

Another strong indication that the event was not staged at Matsue but at Matsuyama is the fact that the same record states that Musashi “stayed at the house of Lord Matsudaira Izumo no Kami” (Matsudaira Izumo no Kami no ie ni ari), rather than at his castle, which would logically have been the case had he been the guest of Lord Naomasa, the master of Matsue castle. If, therefore, Musashi’s host was Katsukata and not Naomasa, the duel would have been held somewhere in the vicinity of Matsuyama castle, where Katsukata would have stayed in an official accommodation, rather than the castle itself.

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