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- Kiryu Kazumanosuke is a swordsman of the samurai caste in the Edo Period, whose name has risen above all others. It has been said that Miyamoto Musashi was the greatest swordsman who ever lived. In his twilight years, as many others did, he wrote an autobiographical work, "Gorin no sho" ("The Book of Five Rings"), which has been translated over and over in many different languages and is, most likely, available at a bookstore near you.
- Much of the legend of his life, however, derives from Yoshikawa Eiji's "Miyamoto Musashi" (released in English-speaking areas as simply "Musashi"). In this book appear many of the characters in this game.
- However, not much is known about the "real" Musashi. Historians seem fairly convinced that he actually did appear in a few registries, under different names. It is believed he was born in 1584 in what is now the Hyougo Prefecture in Japan (in the Kinki region; just to the West of Kyoto). He then began training, according to his own accounts, by the time he was 13, and defeated a strong soldier named Akiyama when he was 16 (which would be around the time of the Sekigahara Battle). He may have possibly fought in these battles in under Kuroda Yoshikata, but there is little evidence as to exactly what was going on in his youth.
- It is said that Miyamoto became famous in 1604 with the incidents involving the Yoshioka family. These characters do appear in the game, and he does, in fact, duel with them. There are many historical accounts to verify this, but they offer varied information (sometimes conflicting).
- There was another major duel in Musashi's life, offered by historical accounts written a century or so later. This was his duel against a man known as either Sasaki Ganryuu, Ganryuu Kojirou, or other such variations, at a place that apparently was known as Funashima, but later was renamed because of the duel there to Ganryuu Island. Obviously, there is even less historical accuracy in the accounts of this duel--especially because Musashi himself left no mention of it. In some histories, Musashi was avenging his father's death at Kojirou's hands. Others have him killing his opponent with bare hands after he was disarmed and others have troops appearing to stop the duel before a victor was chosen. So, this other major duel has become quite a legendary battle, and has become a popular part of the telling of his story.
The inventor of the dual-wield or "two-swords" style, Miyamoto Musashi is recruited by Marume Nagayoshi, working as the head swordsmanship instructor to Tokugawa Ieyasu's forces, to partake in a secret mission just before the Battle at Sekigahara. The operation turns out to be a secret assassination brewed up by the monk Tenkai, chief advisor to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Unfrotunately for Musashi, it was all a set-up for Tokugawa forces to kill a man and make it look like they had not. They arrive at the meeting point to arrest (kill) Musashi, the only man alive who still knew the secret besides the ones who had dreamed up the plot. It is there where he met Sasaki Kojirou, a powerful swordsman. Using his very long weapon, he showed Musashi that he would easily defeat him. With no alternative, Musashi decides to take advice Marume had offered him at the beginning of the operation, and survive this thing. So, he runs away.
His trials and tribulations have led him to the pleasure district, Gion, of Kyoto. Here, he now works as a "kakemawari;" a sort-of "Jack of all trades." At times, he's a bodyguard, and at others, he goes and collects payment of debts for the Tsuruya brothel, the most prominent brothel in town. To disguise himself, he chooses the name "Kiryuu Kazumanosuke." "Kiryuu" is an old name for an area in the Kinki region of Japan--presumably, the place Musashi is supposed to have come from. "Kazuma" has the idea of a horse galloping swiftly. "-No-suke" is an old way to end names, and means something like "son."
One day, a young girl suddenly shows up in Gion, asking to see Kiryuu. She holds in her hands one of Musashi's wakizashi. Recognizing it, Kiryuu allows her to see him. She has a favour to ask, but she has no money. Kiryuu tells her that he only does work for money, and that he'll do anything--so long as she pays.