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A man uses a magnifying glass to examine famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi


Man holding up a magnifying glass to examine famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi, c. 1847-1850

Woodcut print of a man examining famous samurai swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, by Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1798-1861).

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Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645) was a samurai, famous for dueling and also for writing guidebooks to the art of swordsmanship. His family was also known for their skill with the jutte, a sharpened iron bar with an L-shaped hook or hand-guard protruding from the side. It could be used as a stabbing weapon or to disarm an opponent of his sword. The jutte was useful for those who were not authorized to carry a sword.

Musashi's birth name was Bennosuke. He may have taken his adult name from the famous warrior monk, Musashibo Benkei. The child started learning sword-fighting skills at the age of seven, and fought his first duel at 13.

In the war between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans, after Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death, Musashi fought for the losing Toyotomi forces. He survived, and started a life of travel and dueling.

This portrait of the samurai shows him being examined by a fortune-teller, who is giving him a thorough going-over with a magnifying glass. I wonder what fortune he predicted for Musashi?

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