The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

Kunoichi - The Female Ninja

Female ninjas in fiction

Female Ninjas in fictions

Female Ninja of our image

The image of a female ninja

We often find female Ninjas in period dramas, comics, animes, movies, and games, who are very lively and sexy. In fictions, they have a excellent motor nerve and fighting ability, which are never inferior to those of male Ninjas. Well, how are the real appearance of female Ninjas in the history ? In the first place, did they really exist ? And if so, were they as strong as male Ninjas ? We are going to inspect them.

The reality of female Ninjas in the history

At first in conclusion, there certainly female Ninjas had existed in the Japanese history. Their appearance can be found in the esoteric writing about Ninja called " Bansen-shukai (萬川集海) " , written in Edo-period. But there are no records at all which insist female Ninjas were as active as male Ninjas.
In Bansensyukai,female Ninjas are called " Kunoich i" .In Japanese, " Kunoichi " means "nine plus one ". The interpretation of this phrase is that, a woman biologically has "ten" = "nine plus one" holes in her body comparing with a man who has nine holes in his body like eyes, ears, a mouth…. But today, the meaning of Kunoichi is considered that "Kunoichi" is the separations of a Kanji (漢字) , which expresses about " woman (女, おんな ,onna ). The letter "女" can be devided in three Japanese words. They are " く(ku) " , " ノ (No) ", and "一 ( Ichi ) ". However this interpretation is only the influence of " Yamada, Futarou (山田風太郎 ) " , who is a famous historical novel writer. He often used this expression in his works. In this connection, male Ninjas were called " Tajikara ". In Kanji, the letter that indicates a man is " 男 ( おとこ otoko ) " . This word can be also separated " 田 ( た, ta ) " and "力 ( ちから, chikara ) ". So, they are "Tajikara".
According to the historical records, Kunoichis did neither fight nor do flashy espionage. Their main role is to be maids of their enemies. As they invade their hostile residences legally, from the casual conversations with another maids or servants, they pick up secrets information. Generally speaking, people are not cautious about women.Kunoichis take advantage of it.
And Kunoichis adopted such tactics. After they had worked for their enemies and got credit by the people around them, they demand their masters to bring burden from their parents'home.The burden is packed in a big cage, and the box has dual-bottoms. On the lower bottom, a male Ninja is hiding. In this way, a Ninja can sneak into the hostile castle. Eventually, maids are given the period to go back their hometown a few times in a year. Of course, their guarantees are their Ninja masters.Then, Kunoichis can tell their bosses about informations which they had got in hostile residences.
In principle, the jobs of Kunoichis are the supports to male Ninjas, Kunoichis sometimes act indipendently. It is when they utilize a weapon as a female. In short, Kunoichis sometimes sleep with their enemies and try to bring out secrets. Hopefully further, Kunoichis may be able to control even their enemies by obsessing them with sex. For that purpose, it is said that beautiful girls in a very juvenile age were chosen to educate them to be Kunoichis. Such kind of tactics is not so unusual that we can find it in any eras. This is so called " Honey Trap " . But in this case, the problem is that, Kunoichis sometimes take a liking to their enemies seriously. It is said that for such a situation, Kunoich needed to be watched. It is common for any period that man always has to be cautious for a woman's mind.


Chiyome Mochizuki (望月 千代女) and her walking mediums

The reality of kunoichi in history is a little obscure because the documents written about kunoichis are few enough to think that they did not exist. Mochizuki, Chiyome (望月 千代女) is the one and only kunoichi who solidified her name in Japanese history. Originally, the Mochizuki-Family were the leaders of Kouga (甲賀) - ninjas and the routes of the Mochizuki-family existed in the Shinano-koku (信濃国), that is within the territory of the Takeda-family (武田氏).
Chiyome was born in Kouga, but she got married into the Takeda-family. Chiyome must have mastered Kouga-ninjutsu (甲賀忍術). Her husband was Takeda, Moritoki (武田盛時) who was the nephew of the strongest-Daimyo (大名) Takeda, Shingen (武田信玄) but Moritoki was killed in a battle in 156 and Chiyome became a widow. Shingen gave Chiyome the position of the chief of ninja mediums. As described many times, ninjas and Syugendo (修験道) had strong relationships with each other. In the Warring States period, ninjas often pretended to be practitioners of Shugendo and at Kai (甲斐) in those days, the commercial network had advanced well. Kai was the home territory of Takeda-Family. Shingen made full use of this advantage in order to gather information from all around Japan. Religious practitioners could go anywhere without being watched carefully and even more so if a female. They would be trusted by poor people who needed divine protection. So, it must have been quite easy to gather important rumors from them. Chiyome collected orphan girls,who lost their families because of wars, and educated them both as Kunoichi and Shugendou-walking mediums. Especially, beautiful girls were chosen and it is said that more than 200 walking mediums were dispatched throughout Japan. It is believed that Shingen is the first Daimyo who utilized female mediums for espionage.

Kunoichis after that

As mentioned before, when the peaceful Edo-period came, almost all ninjas fell into miserable circumstances. Some could barely get the very bottom jobs, the others could not be anything but criminals or beggars. So, how about in the case of kunoichis? It is thought many of them became prostitutes and Geisya (芸者). In Tokyo even today, there has been a big red light district called Yoshiwara (吉原). Those who built Yoshiwara in the Edo-period were old ninjas who used to belong to the " Fuma-clan (風魔一族) ". Of course, we don't have any proof about the fact at all by at any rate, there are seldom records even about the activities of kunoichi. It is impossible to find even a small fragment of information about how Kunoichis came to be. One thing we can say is that the place where kunoichis could make use of their special abilities in their beauty and sexual techniques the most was the red light district. As for other kunoichis, many would have fallen into harsh situations, some of the luckier ones may have become farmers’ wives and in the worst cases, others would have become beggars. How sad it is that a flower in bloom must always die.