The final five years of 宮本武蔵 Miyamoto Musashi’s life were spent in meditation, in composition and in artistic creation after a lifetime of battle and bloodshed.
Depictions of 宮本武蔵 Miyamoto Musashi, ink on paper.
After having wielded the sword for almost sixty years, the brush and ink became his primary purpose of existence at the sunset of his life.
Replicas of Musashi’s swords displayed at Reiganzenji Temple, Mount Iwatono.
Known throughout the world as the greatest swordsman, a profoundly influential philosopher and one of the most respected painters of ink on paper in Japan, Miyamoto Musashi composed The Book of Five Rings after two years of meditation at Reigando, the Spirit Rock Cave on Mount Iwatono in present-day Kumamoto.
The original Dokkodo, Musashi’s last words, has been kept throughout the last three hundred and sixty-nine years since it was written by the Hosokawa Family and is currently stored at the Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art 熊本県立美術館 (Kumamoto Kenritsu Bijutsukan).
I spoke to staff at the Kumamoto Prefectural Art Museum on April 6th, 2014, and they advised me that the original Dokkodo can be viewed for a period of seven days this year during December 16th- 23rd, 2014 at the museum.
Original Dokkodo by 宮本武蔵 Miyamoto Musashi.
The original five scrolls that comprise of The Book of Five Rings have not survived the passage of time but several copies of the text transcribed by Musashi’s pupils are preserved and in the private possession of the Hosokawa Family and the Shimada Art Gallery in Kumamoto.
A handwritten copy of the work, transcribed in 1651 by one of his disciples during the Edo period, is held at the Shimada Museum of Art, also in Kumamoto.
Up close, the calligraphy of this copy of the Wind Scroll 風の巻 is exquisite, as is the rice paper on which it is written.
Excerpts of the Book of Five Rings in blue ink on enamel set in stone at Musashizuka-koen, where Musashi’s burial mound and tombstone are located.
Detail of Miyamoto Musashi’s burial mound.
Exactly seven days after finishing The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi passed away and left this Earth on June 13th, 1645.