The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Another Ninjas Mecca "Kouga"

Kouga is place for ninjas of equal importance to Iga

The family crest of Rokkaku-Family

The family crest of
Rokkaku

When talking about ninjas, Kouga (b‰ê) is an indispensable spot because almost all ninjas who flourished in the Warring States period in Japan were from Iga or Kouga. Firstly, I am going to introduce the location of Kouga. At present, Kouga is on the southern mountainous area in Shiga Prefecture (Ž ‰êŒ§), and next to Iga (ˆÉ‰ê). So, how did Kouga-ninjas settle down in this place? Legend has it that at the Rebellion of " Tairano, Masakado "(939`940), a military commander named " Mochizuki, Saburo (–]ŒŽŽO˜Y) " raised his exploits and he was given this land from the Imperial Court (’©’ì). Since then, the Mochizuki family has governed Kouga. There were also lots of "Yamabushis (ŽR•š) " who were the Shugendo-practitioners (CŒ±“¹). According to a tradition, it is said that the beginning of the relationship between ninjas and the Mochizuki-family is that Iechika, who was a son of Saburo, was taught ninjutsu by a famous ninja living in Kouga. Since then, the Mochizuki-family became the leaders of Kouga ninjas. It is famously said that the boss of Kouga is the Mochizukis, and in the case of iga, it is the Hattori-family (•ž•”Ž). It is often the case in fictional works that Kouga and Iga are regarded as rivals, because they live in similar places with ninjas and are next-door neighbors.
But this is a mistake. They have such a friendly relationship that they often took part in the same projects and wars by combining their powers. One theory says that originally Kouga and Iga belonged to the same organizations so they didnft have any differences between them. Moreover, their social systems were almost the same. In the case of Kouga, the 53 patriarchs, chosen from the ninja families solve any political problems with a majority vote. The biggest difference between Iga and Kouga is that Iga saved their independence and peace by themselves, on the other hand, Kouga had their lords call the " Rokkaku-family (˜ZŠpŽ) " - who were Daimyos (‘å–¼), and Kouga signed a homage with the Rokkaku-Family. The content of the contract is that, the Rokkaku-family don't interfere with Kouga-ninjas and in return, Kouga-ninjas cooperate with the Rokkaku-family when wars happen.

Kouga-ninjas who are well informed about medicine

Drugs made by a pharmaceutica company in Kouga

Drugs made by
a pharmaceutica company
in Kouga

In Oumi (‹ß]) area, which includes Kouga, the medicine manufacturers have had a long history. Even today in Kouga, the drug industry has been thriving. So of course, Kouga-ninjas have a great knowledge of medicine. Basically, the relationship between medicine and poison is two sides of the same coin. It can be said that fundamentally, every medicine is poison depending on the amount and the condition of use as it can affect as a medicine on a human body. We can find some reasons why pharmacy has developed in Kouga. At first, Kouga is blessed with nature and of course, many herbs grow there so people can get the ingredients for drugs so easily.
Secondly, there are lots of "Yamabushis (ŽR•š) " in Kouga, who are the practitioners of Shugendo (CŒ±“¹), and they can be regarded as the forefathers of ninjas. It is said that Yamabushis made their living peddling medicine. Kouga-ninjas utilized medicine for various purposes. For instance, they had medicines which put an enemy to sleep, medicines which kept themselves awake and medicines which made their enemies fall into a dementia state.

Kouga-ninjas on the battlefield

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu
(“¿ì‰ÆN)

Kouga-ninjas gained their fame at the " Magari-no-Jin (Šb‚̐w) " (1487). Their master Rokkaku Takayori confronted Shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa (‘«—˜‹`®). The reason why Takayori became the enemy of Yoshihisa is that Takayori usurped territories of shrines and temples by multiplying the Onin War (‰žm‚Ì—). Shogun-Yoshihisa raided with his punitive force to Takayori. When Yoshihisa's punitive force came close to Takayori's castle, Takayori ran away into mountains with his army. Of course, the punitive force chased Takayori, Kouga-ninjas protected Takayori. The way of Kouga-ninjas fighting was ever-changing and cunning. When the punitive force assaulted on a peak, the ninjas hid themselves under the valley, and when the punitive force attached the valley, the ninjas climbed on the peak. When the punitive force got exhausted, the ninjas repeatedly made surprising night attacks on the force again and again. At last, the ninjas gave a fatal blow to Shogun-Yoshihisa and his punitive force. Even after this war, the Rokkaku-family were raided by another Shogun and the greatest Daimyo Oda Nobunaga (D“cM’·) many times over, each time ninjas saved the Rokkaku-family. One more remarkable activity of the Kouga-ninja in Japanese history is offense and defense for the castles. Many Kouga-ninja were used under Tokugawa Ieyasu (“¿ì‰ÆN) who would be the first shogun of the Edo-shogunate (]ŒË–‹•{).
When Ieyasu had difficulty raiding a hostile castle, ninjas performed sudden raids. Ninjas invaded castles by multiplying the night darkness, and slayed hostile soldiers. Furthermore they plunged his enemies into chaos, by creating hoaxes and setting fire around them. When the castle of Ieyasu's ally was surrounded by enemies with no less than 40,000 in total, 300 Kouga-ninja joined the besieged. Though of course, almost all of them were killed, they fought a good fight. Thanks to their sacrifice, Ieyasu could gain the precious time to march his army to the headquarters of his enemy. After the war, Ieyasu gave a testimonial to Kouga-ninjas and Ieyasu allotted them the role of protecting Edo-castle (]ŒËé). The watchman-group became the " Kouga hundred Corps (b‰ê•Sl‘g) ".

The end of Kouga-ninja

After the Warring States period had gone, the peaceful Edo-period came to Japan. Among all the Kouga-ninja, those who could share in glory were few. Almost all Kouga-ninjas who had left Kouga lived a life not much different from that of farmers. Among people who had abandoned Kouga, one could be a lower Samurai and the others got the very bottom jobs which did not belong to any regular social class. In 1637, The Shimabara Rebellion happened in Kyusyu. It was a revolt which poor christian farmers brought about, and their leader was Amakusa Shiro aged only 16 years old. Then, Shougun Tokugawa, Iemitsu (“¿ì‰ÆŒõ) offered Kouga-ninjas the opportunity to beat them so they went to the war but they were unsuccessful. The reason was that the Kouga-ninjasf tactics for castle attack were regular and not a surprising raid which they were good at.
Kouga-ninja could not really shine in that battle. Secondly, almost all Kouga-ninjas then were already beyond manhood. This was an ironic metaphor that proved that the time of ninjas had already gone thus, Kouga-ninjas faded out from Japanese history.