Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island

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Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island
Samurai III Duel at Ganryu Island poster.jpg
Japanese film poster
Directed byHiroshi Inagaki
Produced byKazuo Takimura
Written byHideji Hojo (play)
Hiroshi Inagaki
Tokuhei Wakao
Eiji Yoshikawa (novel)
StarringToshiro Mifune
Kōji Tsuruta
Music byIkuma Dan
Distributed byToho Studios
Release date
  • 3 January 1956 (1956-01-03)[1]
Running time
105 minutes

Samurai III: Duel At Ganryu Island (宮本武蔵完結編 決闘巌流島, Miyamoto Musashi kanketsuhen: kettō Ganryūjima) is a 1956 color Japanese film directed by Hiroshi Inagaki starring Toshirō Mifune. It is the third film of the Samurai Trilogy. 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 preceding two parts of the trilogy are Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto and Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple.


Takezo (Musashi) abandons his life as a knight errant. He's sought as a teacher and vassal by Shogun, Japan's most powerful clan leader. He's also challenged to fight by the supremely confident and skillful Sasaki Kojiro. Takezo agrees to fight Kojiro in a year's time but rejects Shogun's patronage, choosing instead to live on the edge of a village, raising vegetables. He's followed there by Otsu and later by Akemi, both in love with him. The year ends as Takezo assists the villagers against a band of brigands. He seeks Otsu's forgiveness and accepts her love, then sets off across the water to Ganryu Island for his final contest.

In the large city of Edo in Japan, Kojiro Sasaki kills multiple men in a battle in the street.[2] The commotion resulting from the battle in the street garners the attention of Musashi Miyamoto who is nearby in the city.[2] Musashi Miyamoto leaves his room to see what has occurred and notices the dead men in the street as well as a note from Kojiro Sasaki claiming responsibility for the killing.[2] Sasaki and Miyamoto eventually meet one another and agree to a fight.[2] However, on the day the fight is planned, Miyamoto decides to delay the fight for a year.[2] During this year before the fight, Sasaki becomes acquainted with the upper class, while Miyamoto begins farming near a small village.[2] Both Miyamoto and Sasaki travel to Ganryu Island for their fight with one another.[2] During this fight, Miyamoto kills Sasaki and is victorious.[2] However, Miyamoto is unhappy about killing Sasaki, calling him "the greatest swordsman" he ever encountered, and silently mourns for him.


The film Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island made in 1956 came in a time after Allied occupation of Japan following World War II.[3] Moreover, following World War II “the Allied occupation restricted films promoting feudal values, putting the kibosh on this most Japanese of action genres”.[3] After the Allies left Japan in 1952, “the way was clear for the golden age of the samurai film”.[3] World War II, the Allied occupation of Japan and then the Allies leaving certainly influenced Japanese film.[3] Additionally, the film’s character Musashi Miyamoto was an actual person who lived from 1584-1645 and was “famed for his two-handed fighting technique and his delicate touch with the Zen ink brush”.[3] The film also relates to Miyamoto’s actual battle with Kojiro Sasaki, which “took place on April 13, 1612 on Ganryu Island, located off the coast of the Bizen Province”.[4]



  1. ^ (in Japanese) accessed 2 June 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Hill, J.; Wagstaff (17 February 2007). "Appreciation: Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island". The House Next Door. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sharp, J. (25 June 2014). "10 Great Summer Samurai Films". BFI Film Forever. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Sasaki Kojiro (aka Ganryu)." MUSASHI MIYAMOTO: The Life and Tales of Japan's Greatest Swordsman. Web. 17 July 2015. <>.

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