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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 '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 (Returning Swallow), 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 Bishonen 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).

See also Miyamoto Musashi.

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 good natured swordsman. He's also very pretty.
  • The original name of James was Kojiro, while Jessie's was Musashi.


  • Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa.

Video Games

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