The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Headquater of Ninja "Iga"

The reason why ninjas in Iga flourished the most in Japan

Among all of the ninjas hometowns, the most famous and powerful one would have to be " Iga (ɉ) ". At present, Iga is located in the west of Mie Prefecture (Od), which is almost at the center of the whole of Japan. Well, what was the reason why Iga became so great. I am going to explain about it now. Firstly, Iga is a mountainous area surrounded by narrow mountains so this is a suitable are for ninjutsu (Ep) which uses mountain strategies and martial arts. On the narrow and steep mountain paths, it is hard to ride horses. Especially for large units, it is difficult fighting there. Speaking for the ninjas who knew the land well and practiced moving around on the geography there, the complications of the land was prefered. As there were a lot of hiding spots like the back and top of trees, they could watch the move of invaders carefully without being noticed. Thanks to lots of obstructions, it was very convenient for them to raid their enemies in a surprising way.

 

Secondly, Iga is very close to Kyoto (s), that was the capital of Japan until the Edo-period.

 

This is very important, because in the Middle ages of Japan, shoguns (R) and daimyos (喼) started and ended conflicts. Their interest focused on the point of how they governed Kyoto. Therefore, many Daimyos hoped to hire ninjas in Iga in order to get important information from their enemies. As Iga is near to Kyoto, Iga functioned like a shelter for the military commanders who lost in politics. Further still, various types of educated people came into Iga from Kyoto. " Educated people " meant someone who could read letters. They brought a variety of cultures into Iga. It goes without saying that a ninja had to be well educated and well informed about letters in order to steal secrets and precious information.

The roots of Iga-ninjas

A  statue of Enno-Ozunu

A statue of
"Enno-Ozunu"

Considering about the ancestors of Iga-ninjas, we can assume three sources. Shugendo (C) - ascetics ( Yamabushi R ), people from overseas who transmitted iron-making to Japan in ancient times and bandits. At first, in a legend, it is said that the founder of Shugendo was " Enno-Ozunu ( p) ", Ozunu most certainly lived, but his life and character which we know, are filled with folklore. In accordance with traditions, he mastered various miracle-working powers as a result of many rigid ascetic practices. For instance, he could exploit even fierce gods as his servants, and he had the ability of " Teleportation ". In Iga, no less than one hundred statues of Ozunu have been worshipped, even today. Furthermore, the legendary training places of Yamabushi and ninjas coincide with each other.
Next, in Iga, there were many of tumulus which were considered to be made by overseas people. Long ago, Iga used to be a production area for iron, and iron-making technology was introduced from the continent. As fire is indispensable for iron-making, in Iga-ninjutsu (ɉEp), there exists various witchcraft using fire and in Iga, some legends about ogres of fire remain. Further to this, in ancient times and the middle ages on the mountains of Iga, elusive bandits using mysterious magic often appeared. Their skills seemed to be ninjutsu. These types of people can be thought of as the ancestors of Iga-ninjas.

The birth of Iga-ninjas and ninjutsu

Todaiji on today

Todaiji on today

In the middle ages of Japan, the system of government was not well established so both rulers and the ruled often changed and social status was not fixed rigidly like the Edo-period. Of course, Iga was not an exception to this. Then, the governor of Iga had been " Todaiji (厛) ", which was a temple. During that age in Japan, it was not unusual that religious organizations had military power. Then, groups that tried to reject the pressure from their governors appeared. They were called "Akutou (}) ". In Iga, the Akutou resisted Todaiji by means of disturbing the payment of land tax to Todaiji by force of arms. The battles between Todaiji and Akutou in Iga continued no less than one hundred years, and Todaiji went to ruin. As a result of this, Iga became the domain ruled by as many as 500 lords. The Akutou are the direct archetype of ninjas groups. They worked out many tactics, which could be described as "mountain guerrilla attacks ", through the long struggles with Todaiji. Such ways of fighting had to be the immediate source of ninjutsu.

The fate of Iga-ninjas

Oda Nobunaga

Oda Nobunaga

Here, we can find the political situation of Iga in this age. The intentions of each lord wsd never monolithic. In the very narrow area of Iga, there were at least 500 lords, and all of them hoped to rule Iga only by themselves but they could not create wars among them. If the inside of Iga was more unstable politically, it would be more likely that they would be conquered by outside enemies. Therefore the lords of Iga could not help but live together while bearing a level of dissatisfaction. Thus with a strong tension, Iga had kept its independence and peace. Among each lord, a uniform command was established for the protection of Iga. In the territory of Iga, 12 members of a committee were chosen, and main problems were decided by the consultation of the 12 members.
But in 1579, the Tensho Iga war (Vɉ̗) took place. Kitabatake, Nobukatsu (kMY) who was the son of the greatest Daimyo Oda Nobunaga (DcM) invaded Iga on his own judgement for his own ambitions But Nobukatsu was driven back by guerilla attacks from the ninjas. Nobunaga raged at the result and he gave 40,000 soldiers and competent military commanders to Nobukatsu to destroy Iga. In 1581, Nobukatsu tried to defeat Iga again with 40,000 soldiers and he succeeded this time.
Because the total population of Iga was as small as 100,000 including civilians like old men and women, Iga was overwhelmed by large volume human wave tactics. Herewith, Iga fell under the domination of Nobunaga and Iga-ninjas were dispersed all over Japan. Some of the lucky ninjas and their descendants could be engaged in jobs as ninjas under Daimyos even after the Edo-period. Their jobs were as bodyguards of noble people and watchers of other countries, and their social status was as lower Samurais. Thereby after the Edo-period, many ninja factions came to exist in various places in Japan, ninjas lost their opportunities to use their ninjutsu. In this way, Iga-ninjas came to disappear from Japanese history.