The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Boss of Iga Ninjas Hattori Hanzo

What is the condition for being a first-class ninja ?

In this chapter, I want to describe about famous ninjas who solidified their names in Japanese history. Here I encounter to a big contradiction. In the first place, it goes without saying that a ninjafs existence was in the shade and that everything that ninjas coped with had to be a secret. It may be said that if a ninjafs name and activities were known to someone he was no longer a top-class ninja. In that sense, there may have existed many ninjas who achieved big results without being known to anyone. It can be thought that they were the true definition of a first-class ninja but in the case of considering about the roles of ninja in Japanese history, they canft be considered without referring to actual documents about ninjas.
From such a point of view, I am going to tell about the real actions of ninjas who have substantial records.

Who was " Hattori, Hanzo (•ž•” ”Ό‘ ) "?

I guess you have heard the name " Hattori Hanzo (•ž•” ”Ό‘ ) ". He was one of the most famous ninjas and his name is often used in fictional works, especially in comics and games. In fiction in many cases, his roll is the boss of ninja groups. Actually in Japanese history, he was the head of Iga (ˆΙ‰κ)-ninjas. However " Hattori Hanzo " didnft necessarily indicate only one person. Hattori Hanzo was the name succeeded to the family that led the group of Iga ninjas.
We are going to look at each Hattori Hanzo chronologically.

Hattori Hanzo " Yasunaga (•Ϋ’·) "

As explained in another article, it can be thought that the roots of the Hattori-family (•ž•”Ž) existed in the weaving craftsman from ancient China but when the historical documents about the Hattori-family as the leader of Iga-Ninjas appeared, it was the age of Hattori Hanzo " Yasunaga (•Ϋ’·) ". In the Middle age Muromachi-period (ŽΊ’¬Žž‘γ 1333-1573), originally Iga ninjas led by Yasunaga obeyed the Ashikaga-Shoguns (‘«—˜«ŒR). When the Ashikaga-Shoguns went down, Yasunaga and his fellows abandoned the Ashikaga-family and found their new lords, the Matsudaira-family (Ό•½‰Ζ). One of the descendants of the Matsudaira-family is Tokugawa Ieyasu (“Ώμ ‰ΖN) who would hold the Edo-Shogunate (]ŒΛ–‹•{) in 1603. Yasunaga left from Iga (ˆΙ‰κ) to Mikawa (ŽO‰Ν) with his 200 ninja-fellows which was the headquarters of the Matsudaira-family. Right there, Yasunaga and the 200 ninjas worked for the Matsudaira-family conducting espionage and becoming the watchmen of their castle contacting and exchanging information with native Iga ninjas.

Hattori, Hanzo " Masanari (³¬) "

Hattori Hanzo Masanari

Hattori Hanzo Masanari


The real spear used by Masanari

The actual spear used by Masanari


The grave of Masanari in Tokyo

The grave of Masanari in Tokyo


Masanari (³¬) was the most famous "Hattori Hanzo" whom people usually imagine as "Hattori Hanzo". It is very ironic that Masanari was hard to define as a ninja in spite of being the most well known ninja in the world. Masanari was the fifth son of Yasunaga. Masanari was born and brought up in Mikawa. In short, Masanari had not been educated as a ninja in Iga but nevertheless he was the boss of Iga ninjas. Masanari was a military commander rather than a ninja. He joined and distinguished himself in war for Tokugawa Ieyasu and many times attended Samurais and his fellow ninjas but Masanari often used guerrilla tactics when he made castles surrender. In this case, it was a ninja style.
Above all, the biggest achievement of Masanari was " helping Ieyasu pass through Iga ". In 1582, the greatest Daimyo " Oda Nobunaga (D“c M’·) " had defeated almost all Daimyos in Japan, and then, Nobunaga had nearly achieved the unification of all Japan. At that time, Ieyasu was in Sakai (δ) with no less than 40 of his subordinates by order of Nobunaga. Then, one of the biggest historical incidents happened. On that occasion, Nobunaga stayed in the temple named Honnoji (–{”\Ž›) with only 50 of his soldiers. All of a sudden, " Akechi, Mitsuhide (–Ύ’q ŒυG) ", who was a military commander of Nobunaga, raided Nobunaga with his 13,000 subordinates. It is said that Nobunaga set fire to the temple and killed himself. After that, the body of Nobunaga could not be found. This incident is "Honnoji-no-Hen (–{”\Ž›‚Μ•Ο) " .
Herewith, the Daimyos who had surrendered to Nobunaga came back to their lives and a brief peace ended. Especially around Kyoto, the fire of war returned. Then, Ieyasu had to go back to his hometown Mikawa to rebuild as soon as possible but in order to do that, Ieyasu needed to go through Iga which was in chaos. The one who helped Ieyasu was Masanari. As Masanari utilized his connection and property, he collected 200 Iga-ninjas and 100 Koga-ninjas. They passed through Iga protecting Ieyasu and arrived at Mikawa. The march of the men traveled for 200 km in only 5 days. At last, after that, Ieyasu could govern the whole of Japan, it can be said that the establishment of the Edo-Shogunate (]ŒΛ–‹•{) owes itself to Masanari. Later, Masanari received a reward from Ieyasu that was almost enough to be able to be a Daimyo (‘ε–Ό). When Ieyasu set up his residence in Edo (]ŒΛ), that is Tokyo (“Œ‹ž) today, Masanari and some of his ninja-fellows could get important jobs watching Edo-castle (]ŒΛι).
It can be said that Masanari was the luckiest ninja and was exceptional too.
The grave of Masanari is located in a certain temple in Tokyo. Among all ninjas in Japanese history, Masanari is the one and only ninja whose date of birth and death and grave location are definitely known to people.
However the fate of the Hattori-family was not so peaceful. The son of Masanari who had taken over the Hattori-family estate was a really stupid and rude guy. His name was Hattori Hanzo Masanari (•ž•””Ό‘  ³A). As Masanari brought about a lot of incidents, many properties and members that had belonged to the Hattori-family were lost. At last, descendants of the Hattori-family fell to become mediocre low level samurais who could not even use ninjutsu (”Ep) any more.