The Thirteen Fingers
Musashi Mikoto Yanagi, of the Yanagi Dojo, a true Kensei
Mikoto Yanagi (translated: Lord of the Willow), born circa 1230 (age 87), is a Musashi in Tesaki Juusan. He is widely considered to be the greatest Swordmaster since Miyamoto Musashi (who the honorific Musashi is named after). He is the Supreme Master of the Yanagi Dojo, located in Sougen, and was given the title of Kensei in 1291, one of only two to receive the title while still alive.
Little is known about Yanagi’s early life. There is no record of his birth date or location (all of his ages are assumed). His birth name is also unknown. He was a parentless, nameless child living in an orphanage in Tama when he was adopted at age 6 by a middle-class industrialist named Yuudai Yanagi. Upon adoption, he gave him the name Mikoto. At age 9, he was sent to the Sougen Dojo.
By age 11, Mikoto had gained the title Sasuga (a title not normally achieved until age 15, at the earliest). He had shown such prolific efficiency with the sword that he started teaching a Shoshinsha class at age 12. At 13, he was granted the title of Sensei (Master), and began training personally with Musashi Etsuo Itsuya. At age 15, less than two years after beginning his training with Musashi Etsuo, he was given the title of Kōchō and less than a year later he was subsequently given the title of Musashi, becoming the youngest Musashi in recorded history. Due to his age, however, he was not granted a commission as a dojo Musashi.
Between Musashi and Dojo Master
At age 16, after receiving the title of Musashi, Mikoto Yanagi left the Sougen Dojo and seemingly disappeared. Rumors prevailed, and stories would pop up of apparent sightings throughout the Juusan, but nothing was ever confirmed. What is considered to be true is that, during his two-year absence, Mikoto traveled to the various dojo located throughout Tesaki, training and possibly teaching with all of the various Musashi around. The greatest story is that of an iaijutsu duel between Yanagi and an unknown student of the Shadowfell Dojo (now the Dojo Ukyo. The story goes that both stood motionless for over 12 hours, focusing their ki. After this time, both withdrew, calling the duel a draw. Shortly thereafter, Yanagi reappeared to accept his commission at a brand new Sougen Dojo and become the youngest Supreme Master in history.
Sougen Dojo to Yanagi Dojo
in 1253, after an increase in activity during the ongoing conflict with Bask Raiders, the government of Sougen was unable to afford support for the four dojo they had under provincial control. Knowing that the Yanagi-run dojo would survive and continue to bring income into the province, they decided to release control of this dojo to Mikoto himself. So, at age 23, Yanagi became the youngest Musashi to ever control an independent dojo. The gambit has paid off, as the freedom to select students has made the Yanagi Dojo the premiere institution in the Juusan, which in turn brings thousands into the Sougen economy. It has also given Mikoto unprecedented freedom to select students; since 1278, he has trained only five students (see list of Mikoto Yanagi Students), most notably Emperor Seijin Shinmichi and Musashi Ukyo Takashi. He is currently training Kōchō Yamato Yori.
Mikoto Yanagi leads a very private life. All that is known about him is that he enjoys a good snifter of tobacco and warm sake after every meal. He has no known relatives or children. He has not been seen in public in fifteen years.