Having a history tied to samurais, shoguns, ronin and ninjas, it comes as no surprise why there are so many castle towns in Japan. One of these is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture known as Iwakuni. It has quite a history concerning battles and sword fighting. One prominent Japanese swordsman was Sasaki Kojiro. He was considered such a master in his craft that even a monument was dedicated to him after his death.
Sasaki founded the Ganryū, a kenjutsu school. He also went by the same fighting name. He studied sword fighting with either Kanemaki Jisai or Toda Seigen (it is not certain which was his master). He became very skillful in using nodachi, which is a type of longsword. After defeating his master’s younger brother, he started running his own school. He became quite famous after a number of duels in which he showed his skills. He was then honored by Lord Hosokawa Tadaoki. Later on, he eventually mastered the nodachi and used the “Monohoshizao” as his main weapon. This means “The Laundry-Drying Pole” in English.
Sasaki Kojiro was a long-time rival of famed ronin Miyamoto Musashi. He was considered to be the most challenging opponent of Miyamoto and there are many battle accounts between them. The last duel took place on April 13, 1612 on Ganryu Island. There are several accounts of the duel between them but most agree that Miyamoto arrived late, which he would normally do every time. This got Sasaki in rage, thus allowing Miyamoto to easily provoke Sasaki into making the first attack. Miyamoto then countered quickly, allegedly by breaking his ribs and puncturing his lungs thus killing him. There are still debates about whether or not the duel was a fair one and if Miyamoto Musashi had cheated.
You can find Sasaki Kojiro’s statue in Kikko Park. You can find many attractions in the place: Kikko Shrine. Mekata Residence, Noh Stage, White Snake Observatory, a number of museums and even a large iris garden at the back of the statue.
The park surely makes a great photo-op with the mountains in the background! If you plan to look for Sasaki Kojiro’s statue, it is best to look it up first on the internet as there are no English signs available.