It was a long journey to Miyamoto, Okayama. I watched my first Taiga Drama, "Musashi" in 2003. My daughter says you never lose your love for your first Taiga Drama - her's was 2001's Hojo Tokimune - and I fondly agree. Over the years she and I have visited many places in Japan whence the legendary swordsman traveled.
I thought we had been to them all, until I was researching attractions in Okayama Prefecture and realized we had never set foot in the town of Miyamoto Musashi's birth. So eleven years after that show began, we took a train from Himeji to the small village of yes, Miyamoto, in Mimasaka, Okayama Prefecture.
As we disembarked from the local train, the first sensation I felt was the quiet. Next, we saw a cheerful arrangement of statues - Musashi, Otsu, and Matahachi - the three childhood friends.
Signs pointed the direction to other related sites. We had a pleasant 20-minute walk along a largely deserted street - it seemed as if we were the only people outside and about, except for the black snake we saw along the way.
There is a museum, a statue of the adult Musashi, and a few other points of significance, such as the birthplaces of Musashi and Matahachi too. But for the most part, this peaceful area invites one to think about what it must have been like to live in this tiny and far off village and to aspire to become something greater.
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