Kokura Monument

The Musashi Kokura Monument was erected in 1654, on the initiative of Musashi’s adoptive son, Miyamoto Iori, nine years after Musashi himself had passed away. Inscribed on the fifteen feet high obelisk-like stone memorial is a lengthy epitaph celebrating the swordsman's life, his exploits and his character. This Kokura hibun, though not the oldest record of the life of Miyamoto Musashi, is one that occupies a special niche among the early records on Musashi.

The monument stands on the crest of Temukeyama, a small hill, some two hundred feet in height. Temukeyama hill lies on the outskirts of Akazaka, in the northern district of the port of Kokura, and looks out over the Straits of Shimonoseki. In the distance one can just make out the island of Funashima, protruding from behind the main island of Hikoshima. At the time of its erection the monument lay within Iori’s fief in the district of Kikunokōri within the Kokura fiefdom in Buzen.

The Kokura hibun is believed to have been written by Akiyama Wanao (1618–73), abbot of the Taishō temple in Kumamoto. During Musashi's last years in Kumamoto, Wanao had befriended the swordsman and, according to the Bukōden, helped him in proofreading his Book of Five Rings. At Musashi's deathbed he gave the swordsman his last rites and his posthumous name. In 1654, ten years after Musashi's death, Wanao composed the lengthy epitaph in response to a request by Musashi's son.

In 1887, the area underwent a reconstruction to accommodate a battery guarding the Strait of Shimonoseki over which it looks. The monument was transferred to the nearby Enmeijiyama (Akazaka), while Iori's grave was transferred to the southern foot of the Temukeyama, close to the entrance of what is now called Temukeyama park. Since then Musashi’s monument has been returned to its rightful place, at the top of Temukeyama, but the graves of Iori and his descendants remains at the foot of the hill, close to the entrance of what is now called Temukeyama park.

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