When I visited Musashi Miyamoto`s Reigando cave there stands a stone block with writing on it. I could only understand a little of it so I asked my friend Eric Shahan if he had time, to translate it.
He generously translated it and allowed me to write it up on my blog. Thankyou Eric.
Translated this plinth regarding Miyamoto Musashi’s Niten Ichi School. This is in front of Reigando, Spirit Rock Cave, where he ensconced himself while writing the Book of Five Rings (the most translated Japanese book ever?)
The Origins of the Niten Ichi School:Niten Ichi Ryu, The Two Heavens Unified as One School of Sword, is not the two-sword school everyone thinks it is. The sword saint Miyamoto Musashi’s life was a journey. He sought to drift like clouds and flow like water until the end.
In his early thirties he fought martial artists from all the domains of Japan and this continued until he was 51 years old. Historically speaking, we have no idea what happened in that 20 year period other than he continuously travelled back and forth between eastern and western Japan seeking to duel and improve his swordsmanship. In the 17th year of Kanei 1640 he accepted Lord Hosokawa Tadayoshi’s invitation and became an advisor on military affairs to the Hosokawa Domain and moved into Chiba Castle in Higo Domain. At the order of Lord Tadayoshi, Musashi wrote the Thirty-Five Rules of the Sword, which he offered to his patron.Two years later, using the Thirty-five Rules of the Sword as a framework, he wrote the Book of Five Rings while ensconced in Reigando, the Spirit Rock Cave.
On May 12th of the 2nd year of Shoho 1645 he granted The Book of Five Rings to Terao Masanobu. To Terao Nobuyuki (Masanobu’s younger brother) he granted the Thirty-Five Rules and affirmed him as the head instructor and heir to his school. From this point on, with The Book of Five Rings having established the basis of the Niten Ichi School, the family who inherited the role of instructors of the school split into five branches. Despite not spreading beyond the domain, it flourished. However, by the end of the Edo Era only the Noda, Yamao and Santo branches still continued.
In the period from the Meiji to Showa (1868 -1989) some branches ceased to exist while others were rejuvenated. At the same time branches were also formed outside the prefecture, however, at present, only the Noda Branch in Kumamoto retains an unbroken lineage to the family that inherited the role of instructors.Ceremonies are held every year on May 19th, the anniversary of Musashi’s death, at the Spirit Rock Cave and on June 12th, the anniversary of Terao Nobuyuki’s death, in front of his grave.
As offerings to the spirits of these former teachers the Noda Branch train three techniques; Five Way Sword, Two Sword Cut and One Sword Cut. At the Dojo, the Niten Ichi School continues to train with the spirit of Cho-Tan-Seki-Ren 朝鍛夕練Morning training is forging, Evening Training is Tempering.