The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

Ninjas and Japanese History

When and what was the birth of ninjas?



The age when ninjas (”EŽÒ) flourished in Japanese history was the Warring States period between the 15th and 16th centuries. In the first place, when were the groups of ninjas born? I am going to expand on the history of ninjas, but I forewarn you that the the stories I will talk about are not necessarily believed by everybody, many of them are hypotheses. As the history of ninjas is so long, it is hard to find conclusive evidence throughout the historical documents available today.
Firstly, it is said that the prototype group techniques of ninjas were born in classical China. As I already explained in the previous chapter, "Sun-Tzu (‘·Žq) " emphasized the importance of espionage about no less than 2500 years ago. In BC 221, the first Emperor " Shi-Huangdi (Žnc’é) " unified all of the china. According to a certain historical legend, he dispatched a man named " Xu Fu (™•Ÿ) " to Japan in order to obtain the elixir of life. At that time, "Xu Fu" brought his wizardry, and it became the base of " ninjutsu (”Ep) ".


How the groups of ninjas were molded

In the 7th century and throughout the times that followed, a certain document says that a great politician called " Shotoku-Taishi (¹“¿‘¾Žq) " used a man named "Otomono Hosohito (‘唺 ×l) " as a spy. Otomono Hosohito was the ancestor of ninjas. Basically, in classical ages in Japan, there existed two types of tribes. One were the aborigines of Japan called "Jomon-jin (“ꕶl) " and the other was the groups who passed on the rice farming from Eurasia, called " Yayoi-jin (–퐶l) ". Around the 8th century, Yayoi-jins took a hegemony of Japanese governance. At that time, Jomon-jin were banished into the mountains with their beliefs and techniques. The remarkable point is that the hamlets to where ninjas retreated are the sacred places of the japanese prehistoric age. The people are the original groups of ninja. Until the Warring States period in Japan, almost all territories had been private lands called " Shoen (‘‘‰€) " ruled by priests, aristocracy , bureaucrats and so on. In this age, historical friction between each shoen were rare. In those days, great battles among the big groups of Samurais (Ž˜) often took place. At that time, it is said that ninjas went to war as secret agents. Ninjas were hired by samurais as mercenaries. At last, when the age came when each of the lands in Japan were discovered by "Daimyo (‘å–¼) "s who were the lords of "Samurai"s, then many of the fierce wars came about over Japan.

Ninjas appear on the front stage in Japanese History!

Finally, the Warring States period started and this meant days of rivalry between warlords. At this time, each daimyos possesed each area in Japan and they waged desperate wars with each other for the unification of the whole country. This period continued about no less than 100 years between the 15th and 16th century and that was the time of ninja. Ninjas sometimes struggled for their masters and they fought in order to protect their hometowns. Some ninjas took part in the battles as mercenaries. According to a recent study, the mainstream ninjas in this time were " Armed guerrilla mass ". They were good at surprise raids. In short, in this age of ninjas, it is said that combat might have been more important than espionage . This theory is so unclear because the historical documents about ninja are few. In any event, in the Warring States period, Daimyos spent all their time in battles and they are believed to have permanently desired information of their enemies so it is no doubt then that ninjas behaved as spies.

Hanzomon in Tokyo

Hanzomon in Tokyo

At that time, two ninjas, who can be called historical individuals, appeared. " Hattori Hanzo (•ž•” ”¼‘ ) " and " Fuma Kotaro (•—–‚ ¬‘¾˜Y) ". They achieved great results for their lords. Especially Hanzo, he served "Tokugawa, Ieyasu (“¿ì ‰ÆN) ", and Hanzo was given a big residence in a heart of Edo (at present, it is Tokyo) by Ieyasu as a reward. The name of the place still remains even today, itfs called "Hanzomon (”¼‘ –å) ".
We can find no less than 70 persuasions of ninjutsu at the peak period, in documents. Among them, the most famous 2 groups are " Iga (ˆÉ‰ê) " and " Koga (b‰ê) " but at the end of the Warring States period, they made enemies of a great Daimyo and a " Shogun («ŒR) " . The result of it was the end of the fierce battle and they received a devastating blow. Thus, ninjas faded away from the stage of Japanese history.

Ninjas in the subsequent ages

Edo-style street performer

An Edo-style
street performer

At last, Tokugawa Ieyasu unified all of Japan and he started the Edo-Shogunate (]ŒË–‹•{) in 1603. Finally, the Warring States period finished and the peaceful Edo-age started in Japan. The importance of ninjas in History diminished. Then, what became of ninjas and ninjutsu? Some of lucky ninjas who worked under Ieyasu could get important posts as guards around Edo-castle (]ŒËé). As Ieyasu needed to look out for all of the daimyos in Japan, other ninjas were dispatched from each daimyofs territory and yet, almost all ninjas ceased to exist. They all had to live by using their special talents and skills. Some became pyrotechnists and others got jobs as pharmacists, gardeners, zen-priests, street performers and so on. The techniques of ninjutsu have been partially inherited to the present day.