The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

Ninjas, in Edo period

Ninjas and social conditions in the Edo period of Japan

As Tokugawa Ieyasu united the whole country of Japan and began the Edo-Shogunate (]ŒË–‹•{) in 1603, Japan changed from the age of rival barons to a peaceful feudal state. Edo (]ŒË) (the capital then) is present day Tokyo. The circumstance of ninjas varied drastically. Above all, demand for ninjas decreased so much because wars themselves vanished. Lords of each domain (Daimyo ‘å–¼) did not need to get information from others illegally any more. In short, ninjutsu (”Ep) lost its reason to exist.
So what became of individual ninjas then? As mentioned many times, almost all ninjas fell to the bottom of the social pyramid, or dropped out of the regular social classes and became untouchables. Fortunate ninjas from Iga (ˆÉ‰ê) and Koga (b‰ê) could get jobs like policemen or lower level Samurais (‰º‹‰•Žm) in Edo but in the Edo period (]ŒËŽž‘ã), they gradually lost the sense of being ninjas because they seldom had opportunities to use ninjutsu and eventually they didnft use ninjutsu at all.
Although it is true that a great number of ninjas themselves disappeared in the edo period, there were intelligence operatives who belonged to the Edo-shogunate. They were called Kogi-Onmitsu (Œö‹V‰B–§). We are going to look at their activities.

 

Ninjas, in Edo period

 

Edo castle

Kogi-Onmitsu

Do you know why the Tokugawa-Family (“¿ì‰Æ) could rule the whole of Japan during a 265 year period throughout the Edo-period? The only reason is that the Tokugawa-Family were assigned as" Shogun («ŒR) " by reigning" Tenno (“Vc) " (Japanese Emperor). The relationship between Shogun and tenno was exactly the same as that of absolute monarchs in Europe and roman Popes so it meant that the Tokugawas could only rule Japan. Originally, the Tokugawas were no more than one of the Daimyos (‘å–¼). That is to say, another Daimyo could have defeated the Tokugawas as long as they had just cause. What the Tokugawas were afraid of was this point. So, for the Tokugawas, the less power other Daimyos had, the better. If possible, the Tokugawas wanted to exterminate other Daimyos. For that reason, the Tokugawas established " Kogi-Onmitsu (Œö‹V‰B–§) " in order to check any suspicious movements of other Daimyos and to find their weak points. Kogi-Onmitsu was the direct intelligence organization of the Edo-Shogunate. At most, there were 3,000 members in this circle.
Though Kogi-Onmitsu is spies as well as Ninja, the most difference between them is that, Kogi-Onmitsu basically does not use active, physical, violent and bloody means in their missions unlike Ninja. The reality of Kogi-Onmitsu was as like as security police in the city of Edo. Of course, members of Kogi-Onmitsu were not NinjasCor offsprings of Ninjas. But it can be said that the existence of Kogi-Onmitsu decreased the demands of Ninjas moreover in the society of Edo.

Kusa

The job of Kogi-Onmitsu was mainly the preservation of Edo city and the observing of other Daimyos. I am going to tell you about the later. Of course in the heyday of the ninja, missions that involved staying in hostile territories for a long period existed. Ninjas orders were called " Kusa (‘) ". In Japanese, " Kusa " means " grass " . It is thought that they were named so because Kusa spread its roots in one place and lived right there.
Kogi-Onmitsu were often appointed to live in places far from Edo such as Kusa. In many cases, they got regular jobs at their places of appointment. There were two reasons for that. One was, needless to say, not to be doubted by local people. The other was to collect useful information by means of being at work. They often disguised themselves as farmers, postmen called " Hikyaku (”ò‹r) " , or shipping agents, or sailors. If Onmitsu became farmers, it was very favorable to collect the rumors of ordinary local people of the land but they may not have been so important. On the other hand, in the case of Hikyaku or shipping agents, it was so useful that he could get important information from several places with which they were connected and they could entrust someone to bring the information that they had got right there to Edo.
Kusa was really involved because it was a long term duty. It is thought that some of them could never go back to Edo in their lives. Others had their families with them in their post and their sons and grandchildren sometimes had to inherit the mission without being exposed to their real character by anyone.

 

 

Oniwaban-Shu

Although Kogi-Onmitsu was an organization under the direct control of the Edo-Shogunate, it did not necessarily belong to individual Shoguns. As the Edo-Shogunate was a system of a perfect command hierarchy, it was more hopeful that a Shogun had his own intelligence service. The Edo-Shogunatefs 8th Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (“¿ì ‹g@) established such a group. It was called " Oniwaban-Shu (Œä’ë”ԏO) ". In Japanese, Oniwaban-Shu means " the team of gardeners ". It is said that the members of Oniwaban-shu were around 200.
Usually, they took care of the gardens in Edo-castle. This choice of occupation was for some reasons. First of all, they could go anywhere in Edo-castle as gardeners so members of Oniwaban-Shu could observe the tendencies of people in Edo-castle. Secondly, they could meet Shogun Yoshimune directly, when Yoshimune was taking a walk in the garden and at last, they could collect various opinions of the people living in Edo-castle, like Samurais, maids, and craftsmen. When members of Oniwaban-shu got commands from Yoshimune, they would be dispatched to the end of Japan. Oniwaban-Shu was moved only by the orders from a Shogun. On the other hand, Oniwaban-Shu could investigate even senior statesmen as long as they had the permission from the Shogun.
Thanks to activities of the Oniwaban-shu, the espionage ability of Shoguns and Edo-Shogunate dramatically improved. As Oniwaban-shu coexisted with Kogi-Onmitsu, any kind of information was checked twice and examined broadly. At the result of this, Shoguns came to get any news from the end of Japan so accurately. Oniwaban-shu were like the " eyes of the king " "the ears of the King " in the Achaemenid Empire in Persia.
The 260 years of peace in the Edo-period strongly owes itself to the actions of " ninjas in the Edo period" like Kogi-Onmitsu and Oniwaban-Shu so much.

 

Ninjas, in Edo period

 

Yoshimune Tokugawa