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Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto

Musashi Miyamoto
File:Samurai1 mm.jpg
The cover of the Criterion Collection DVD.
Directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
Produced by Kazuo Takimura
Written by Hideji Hōjō (play)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tokuhei Wakao
Eiji Yoshikawa (novel)
Starring Toshiro Mifune
Rentarō Mikuni
Music by Ikuma Dan
Distributed by Toho Studios
Release dates
  • 26 September 1954 (1954-09-26) (Japan)
  • 18 November 1955 (1955-11-18) (US)
Running time
93 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Miyamoto Musashi (宮本武蔵?) (released in the United States as Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto) is a 1954 color (Eastmancolor) Japanese film by Hiroshi Inagaki starring Toshiro Mifune. It is the first film of Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy of historical adventures. The film is adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa's novel Musashi. The novel is loosely based on the life of the famous Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. The film won a Special/Honorary Award at the 1955 Academy Awards for outstanding foreign language film.

The other two films in the trilogy are Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island.


Following the battle of Sekigahara, Takezo (Toshiro Mifune) and his friend Matahachi (Rentarō Mikuni) find themselves on the losing side. Instead of the grand victory and glory Takezo had anticipated, he finds himself a hunted fugitive, having to assist a severely injured Matahachi. The pair seek shelter with a widow and her daughter who unknown to them are connected to local brigands. The brigands soon show up and ask for tribute from what the women have stripped off dead samurai, and Takezo has to fight them off. Both women attempt to seduce Takezo but are rejected. The widow then tells Matahachi that Takezo tried to assault her and convinces him to escort her and her daughter to Kyoto. Matahachi agrees even though he loves (and is betrothed to) Otsu (Kaoru Yachigusa), a woman from his village.

Takezo thinks his friend Matahachi has deserted him, and as he goes home breaks through a road block injuring several of the local lords men manning it, and returns to his village to tell Matahachi's family that he is still alive but will not reveal why Matahachi has not returned. Matahachi's mother does not believe him and she is arrested for treason along with many members of her clan. There is a village wide search for Takezo, organized by the lord. Even after using his relatives as bait, the villagers cannot catch Takezo. Otsu, meanwhile gets a letter signed by the woman's daughter saying that Matahachi has gone off with her and to forget him, which leaves her devastated.

Takezo is finally captured by the Buddhist priest Takuan Sōhō, who tells the lord that he must be allowed to use his methods to control him. The priest believes that he can straighten him out, but Takezo escapes with Otsu's help. But he is soon tracked down and Otsu is captured, but he fights his way out. Takezo is then captured again by the priest when he goes to look for Otsu, after finding out that Otsu has been taken to Himeji Castle. He is tricked and locked in a room in the castle for three years.

The end of the film shows Takezo being released and granted his samurai name 'Musashi Miyamoto.' He then leaves to search for enlightenment, leaving two messages for Otsu: "Soon I will be back" and "Forgive me."

Historical background

The film begins in the year 1600 with Tokugawa Ieyasu's victory in the battle of Sekigahara which cleared the path to the Shogunate for Tokugawa Ieyasu. Though it would take three more years to consolidate the position of power over the other clans. The historical Miyamoto Musashi is believed to have fought in this battle.


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