Useful Notes / Sasaki Kojiro

Sasaki Kojiro (1585?-1612) was one of the greatest swordsmen of the Sengoku/Edo periods, and is still known for his legendary duel against Miyamoto Musashi at Ganryujima.

Also known as Ganryu (he later named his martial arts school after it), he was trained by famous swordsmen in the art of wielding the kodachi (shortsword) and later the katana. By 1610, he became a powerful warrior, capable of fending off up to three opponents with a tessen (metal fan), and was named a Kensei, or "Sword Saint", someone who has perfectly mastered the blade. His favourite weapon was a nodachi called Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu which was also referred to with the less-formidable name of Monohoshizao (Laundry Pole).

He also developed a signature powerful sword technique called Tsubame Gaeshi (Swallow Return), a high-speed swordslash that changed direction at the last second.

Having found fame, Kojiro was eventually challenged by his long-term rival Musashi, and was killed at Ganryujima in April 1612. It's often thought that Musashi may have cheated, however, there are many stories about what actually happened, and no one knows the full details.

Kojiro is usually portrayed as a Bishōnen and a lady-killer, though it is also rumored he was deaf in one ear. Widely considered Musashi's most powerful opponent, and the two are often cast in a Red Oni, Blue Oni relationship (with Kojiro usually cast as the Blue).


References to Kojiro appear in the following works:

Anime & Manga

  • Yaiba features Kojiro as a revenant swordmaster resurrected by the Big Bad Onimaru. He wields his trusty sword Laundry Pole, which can grow longer on command.
  • Kojiro appears in Vagabond as a deaf-mute but incredibly skilled and overall good-natured swordsman. He's also very pretty, and very popular with women.
  • The original name of James was Kojiro, while Jessie's was Musashi.

Literature

  • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa.

Video Games

  • In Samurai Warriors Kojiro is introduced as a ghastly yet beautiful, narcissistic assassin very skilled with his Nodachi and extra-dimensional blades. He's Musashi's rival, and seeks to give him a ''beautiful end''.
    • Also shows up in Warriors Orochi via the same incarnation.
      • And again, also has tons of variations of his Tsubame Gaeshi attack, albeit most of them are a bit randomly named in nod to its ambiguous origins. Also voiced by Yuuji Ueda.
  • Appears in Onimusha Blade Warriors as an aloof, cold warrior very skilled with his blade. His rivalry with Musashi is also toned down.
  • Fate/stay night has the "Assassin" who's based on Kojiro Sasaki and even uses the Tsubame Gaeshi and a nodachi. However, this version of Sasaki Kojiro goes by the theory that the man is a fictional rival created by Musashi. The servant known as Assassin is just a nameless man who perfected his own Tsubame Gaeshi technique and was just credited by this name since Heroic Spirits are in large part powered by their own fame and Kojiro became very famous despite not actually existing.
  • Brave Fencer Musashi has Kojiro as Musashi's rival.
  • Gandrake in Musashi Samurai Legend is based on Kojiro. He is actually him.
  • Ill Swordmaster and Iaijutsu Practitioner Ukyo Tachibana is based on Kojiro. He even has (at least in the first game) the Tsubame Gaeshi attack.
  • Pokémon references Kojiro with the move Aerial Ace. In Japan, it is named "Swallow Return" after his signature move. Most Pokémon can learn the move, despite it being Flying type (Just for Pun, due to its name).