In 1604, four years after his involvement in the battle of Sekigahara, Miyamoto Musashi, one of Japan’s most famous swordsmen, challenged Yoshioka Seijuro, the head of the Yoshioka school of kenjitsu, to a duel. The Yoshioka school was one of the eight major kenjitsu schools called the Kyohachiryu, and defeating their head in a duel would cement Musashi’s legacy as one of the premier swordsmen in Japan. The duel was fought with wooden swords, and when Musashi struck Seijuro’s shoulder, breaking his arm, he was declared the winner. Seijuro later retired as the head of the school, leaving it in the hands of Yoshioka Denshichiro who quickly challenged Musashi to another duel, this time to the death. Musashi made short work of Denshichiro, killing him with a blow to the head with his wooden sword. This left the school in the hands of twelve year-old Yoshioka Matashichiro who likewise challenged Musashi to a duel, at night, outside of Hachida Jinja. Suspicious of the odd timing of the duel, Musashi arrived earlier than the appointed time and found Matashichiro surrounded by a small personal army bent on ambushing the swordsman. Having none of this, Musashi waited until an opportune moment to leap from his hiding place and run at the boy, cutting off his head. Surrounded by hostile swordsman, musketeers, and archers, Musashi drew his second sword and fled through the rice fields, cutting his way through with both blades. Thus, ni-ten ichiryu was born.
Hachidai Jinja sits in northern Kyoto’s Sakyo-ku ward, in the Ichijoji district. Its out of the way location scenically located at the base of a mountain with several other temples along the incline makes it a perfect destination for travelers looking to experience some of old Kyoto without the bustle of tourists. A piece of the Sagarimatsu, an ancient pine tree used as a waypoint for travellers in feudal Japan is preserved here. It was at this pine tree that Musashi defeated the Yoshioka school once and for all. Decedents of this pine are carefully cultivated near the original location, just down the street from Hachidai Jinja.
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