Matsudaira Katsukata

One of the more important men to have a friendly match with Musashi when he was in his fifties was Matsudaira Katsutaka. Matsudaira Katsutaka (1589–1666) was son of one of Ieyasu’s most senior vassals and had held a string of important positions within the Bakufu. In 1634 he had moved down to 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 had decided that henceforth the Matsuyama domain was to be governed by a member of the Matsudaira, the clan from which the Tokugawa themselves descended. It was Katsutaka’s duty to prepare the hikiwatashi, the castle’s smooth transfer from one clan to another.

It was probably on his way south by boat across the Inland Sea to join his son in Kokura (to which fiefdom his master, Ogasawara Tadazane had just been promoted), that Musashi visited Katsutaka at Matsuyama. Katsutaka’s clan, after all, was related to the Ogasawara (Tadazane’s fourth son was adopted by Katsutaka’s eldest brother), and it is very likely that he and Musashi met at Akashi or Kokura castle, and that Katsukata had invited the swordsman to pay him a visit.

The Bushū denraiki describes how, on Katsutaka’s request, Musashi engaged with one of his retainers in the library garden but that, “Musashi struck out hard at the man’s left and righ-hand wrists, and as he faltered, struck him down and claimed victory.” It goes on to describe how, against the advice of his councilors, Katsutaka took his place opposite Musashi and that:


Up to three times Musashi drove Lord Izumo back with his three swords, the third time right into the library. But still Lord Izumo did not falter and when he sought to drive his weapon home Musashi intercepted the bokutō with his own using a nebari o kakuru, and then struck out at Lord Izumo’s bokutō by means of a sekka no atari with all his might. This caused Lord Izumo’s bokutō to break in two and one piece to hit the library’s ceiling.

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