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Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)
"Zoku Miyamoto Musashi: Ichijôji no kettô" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,658 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 23 critic

Musashi Miyamoto returns to Kyoto after years of absence. After a series of fights against the Yoshioka School, he challenges its master to a duel.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Kôji Tsuruta ...
Mariko Okada ...
Kaoru Yachigusa ...
Michiyo Kogure ...
Mitsuko Mito ...
Akihiko Hirata ...
Daisuke Katô ...
Kuroemon Onoe ...
Sachio Sakai ...
Yû Fujiki ...
Denshichiro Yoshioka
Machiko Kitagawa ...
Kogure
Eiko Miyoshi ...
Eijirô Tôno ...
Kenjin Iida ...
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Storyline

After years on the road establishing his reputation as Japan's greatest Samurai, Takezo returns to Kyoto. Otsu waits for him, yet he has come not for her but to challenge the leader of the region's finest school for Kendo. To prove his valor and skill, he walks deliberately into ambushes set up by the school's followers. While Otsu waits, Akemi also seeks him, expressing her desires directly. Meanwhile, Takezo is observed by Sasaki Kojiro, a brilliant young fighter, confident he can dethrone Takezo. After leaving Kyoto in triumph, Takezo declares his love for Otsu, but in a way that dishonors her and shames him. Once again, he leaves alone. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

young | japan | samurai | 17th century | 1610s | See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

20 October 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Duel at Ichijoji Temple  »

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Runtime:

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The levels of water and the mud in the rice paddies at Ichijoji Temple vary between shots. See more »

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Followed by Bushido (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Musashi: Books of Water through Void
8 April 2013 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Step the second in my cinematic sojourn through these Musashi Miyamoto films. The first part was setting up the story, visually resplendent but leaves you out in the open—it could go on any number of ways. In this second part, the direction is solidified. Musashi is set up to choose between the way of the sword or love for the girl Otsu, while having to face his nemesis Sasaki Kojiro, foreshadowed for the closing chapter.

What puts me off this second chapter, which I rate the lowest of the three, is that we had a set of characters in the first film, and suddenly we have another set of characters. The film revolves around his feud with the Yoshioki school.

So in a way, this loose narrative foreshadows the third chapter. As it emerges in this second film, the film is not one long epic split in three parts. Neither is each of the two films so far self-enclosed. The narrative is a loose stitching together of episode and digress, thrust and feint in many directions; observant viewers will notice the same in the elliptical shooting mode.

I will not say more about this as a film since we are still halfway there, instead I'm going to pack all cinematic insights in the comment for the third.

--

As promised, I'm going to be providing with each comment some context around the films. Here, I'm talking on the fluidity of self.

This is a core precept of Buddhism, which features prominently in the films; Musashi receives key lessons by monks, his journey is one of self-realization, internal abating of ego.

In terms of religion, this fluidity is seen in the transmission and establishment of Buddhism in Japan over several hundred years through several attempts, several travels of Japanese monks in China. Both notable Zen schools in Japan were initiated by monks of the Tendai sect who had been to China. The film's main two centerpieces take place outside Buddhist temples (one is referenced in the title, the other is Sanjusangen-do), both belonging to Tendai. The Sanjusangen-do, a marvelous structure, is also famous for housing one thousand and one statues of the thousand armed Kannon, this is the boddhisatva of compassion. The little wooden statuette that Musashi is seen carving in spots, is of Kannon.

Now simply saying that the self is illusory in nature sounds weird, metaphysical or philosophical at best. Buddhists have many of the same lofty words as we do, about 'void' and 'self', but whereas we're accustomed to theoretical construction and analytical philosophy (we love words in the West), they resort to words as a last means of describing practiced stuff—also evident in Musashi's own writings where he stresses experiential appreciation.

So when they say 'void', they don't mean a generality but something which can be felt, has been felt, as one feels the temperature of water. When they say 'self', they mean when a single thought arises while you're washing the dishes.

So it's a pain in the ass to talk of it, because how can you say exactly how warm it is? It either is to you or isn't. Just stick your hand in. Zen Masters (as well as Musashi whose 'Way of strategy' is Zen-flavored) knew this, which is why they often concocted non-sensical mindgames, loved paradox, urged silence or beat and kicked their students when they asked logical questions. The point is knowing for yourself. A similar thing happens to Musashi in the first film when he is tied by a Zen monk from a tree, a fictional event.

This monk, Takuan, existed, though his interactions with Musashi in the film are fiction, presumably he did know Musashi. He wrote on this business of illusion and nonself using sword metaphors, because the writings were intended for Yagyu Munenori, sword instructor to three shoguns and with Musashi the most famous swordsman in his day. Munenori briefly appears in the third film.

Munenori and Musashi both wrote books with background in all this. Both are still being widely read in the martial arts and business worlds, by people looking for insights on either real or metaphorical war.

Musashi's first four books comprise technique and strategy. The last one and shortest, Book of the Void, which is held in separate esteem, probably because of the portentous title, is where Musashi speaks of the Zen void as deeper principle—it should be the most interesting but isn't, Musashi's practical conveyance falls short. No, it's the books on strategy that deserve study once you look past hand-to-hand combat, at least for our purposes here.

Suffice to say, both Zen and Musashi urge direct observation of mind instead of general reasoning. Suffice to say, from the perspective of Zen a Kannon statue is no more sacred than the piece of wood it was carved from. And that the act of carving is the manifestation of self, this can be practically observed in the carved image—is it sloppy, elegant? This is important. So neither spoken word, nor teachings in a book, nor sacred image, nor Zen or not Zen, but observation of the mind behind. I'm going to wrap this in the third post.


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