Sasaki Kojiro (佐々木 小次郎) is one of the main protagonists of Vagabond. He is the legendary arch-rival of Miyamoto Musashi. In Vagabond he is portrayed as deaf-mute.
A young man with long, flowing hair and what others describe as an innocent, child-like face. He is slightly taller than Musashi.
His personality is very playful, almost child-like. Despite this he is also very sexually active. He enjoys duelling against opponents - his way of communicating with people.
Kojiro was the son of Sasaki Sukeyasu, a former disciple of Kanemaki Jisai who sent his son and wife to Jisai in 1583 CE.
Whilst initially reluctant to raise a deaf child, Jisai comes to love Kojiro and adopts him as his son. He is nevertheless reluctant to teach Kojiro, fearing that a deaf boy could never master the sword and would surely end up dead. However Kojiro watches Jisai's instruction of the other local children and practices himself in secret, and proves to be stronger that any of Jisai's students.
After defeating Koun, he is able to reunite with Ittosai. However Kojiro is angry at Ittosai for abandoning him and charges towards him in rage. Ittosai notices Kojiro's bloodlust has disappeared and is intially disappointed at Kojiro's missed cut, but then realizes that Kojiro used his technique Tsubame-Gaeshi to cut upwards and slashed half of his right palm. Ittosai instantly switches to his left hand to knock Kojiro out with his sword. Ittosai, impressed with Kojiro, rates him 1000 points for injuring him.
It is assumed that Kojiro, Gennosuke, and Ittosai go separate ways. Kojiro sleeps with a prositute who is Kohei's favorite woman. Kohei cuts the prositute's face for her betrayal and goes after Kojiro. Kojiro grabs his sword and uses Tsubame-Gaeshi to cut Kohei's face.
From here, Kojiro becomes a famous swordsman, challenging others.
Kojiro is spotted in Kyoto when he reads the challenge post that Denshirou puts up against Musashi. Kojiro laughs as he notices Musashi's hand ink print on the challenge note.
Kojiro is staying at the same place as Musashi. Kojiro sees Musashi's snowman and is instantly amused by it. Kojiro takes off the stick of the snowman and tries to cut down the snowman. Here Musashi reunites with Kojiro, although Musashi doesn't recognize him, but feels he has seen him before, and Kojiro seems to remember him. Musashi notices Kojiro's movements when he waves the stick around. They have a brief fight with the sticks and realize that each strike could be lethal. Kojiro wants to use real swords, but Musashi stands there. Kojiro notices this and withdraws his blade until they realize that it is dark.
After Musashi leaves, Kojiro constantly thinks about Musashi. He keeps asking where Musashi is or what he is doing.
Attributes and Abilities
Ittousai has also commented the possibility that Kojiro's eyes have become better developed to compensate for his lack of hearing.
Swordsmanship: Ganryu - Tsubame-Gaeshi (燕返し) Kojiro was renowned for his Tsubame-Gaeshi, or “Swallow Cut” technique, inspired by the movement of a swallow in flight. He used this technique while fighting against Ittosai.
Monohoshizao (The drying Pole) is a nodachi, or a long katana. It is a memento of his deceased father, Kojiro as a child was very fond of it. Kanemaki Jisai threw the sword in the ocean after Kojiro left him.
- Kojiro went by the fighting name of Ganryū.
- It is questionable if Kojiro even existed, some of the historic dates don't match and Musashi's The Book of Five Rings doesn't even mention him.
- Kojiro is believed to have studied the Chujo-ryu style of swordsmanship under the instruction of either Toda Seigen or Kanemaki Jisai
- The Kojiro in Eiji Yoshikawa's 'Musashi'—the inspiration for Vagabond'—is a very different character. Vagabond's Kojiro is a deaf-mute with a child-like, innocent personality. Yoshikawa's Kojiro is not only able to hear/talk perfectly well, but is shown to be sadistic and bloodthirsty. He takes pleasure in watching people die, kidnaps girls he is in love with to tie up and rape, and Musashi describes him as deceitful and a schemer.