The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Social Status of Ninja

Ninjas were inhuman by definition

When talking about ninjas (”EŽÒ), what we should bear in mind is that ninjas were something quite different to the norm in every sense. For instance, a ninja's way of fighting was based on sneak attacks. This was the biggest difference between ninjas and samurais. A Samurai was always demanded to be fair and square. In a samurai duel, using tricks and deceiving onefs opponent was perceived as a poor tactic. On the other hand, a ninja's activities were composed of these four actions " espionage (’³•ñ) ", " subversive activities (”j‰óHì) ", " infiltration tactics (Z“§íp) " and "assassinations (ˆÃŽE) ". I am going to explain about these briefly. Needless to say, espionage means to steal worthy information from enemies. For such missions, a ninja would use such illegal means justifiably like a residential break-in, theft, damaging property and so on. Although it was a matter of course, such conduct is considered as a crime in modern countries with constitutional governments. Next, infiltration tactics were a very modern method of wars. This tactic was invented in W.W1. The practice is that soldiers creep into a group of their enemies without being noticed and aim to disturb the platoons.
With such actions, you can expect the rupture of logistics, chains of command and bring about panic from hostile soldiers, Surprisingly, ninjas carried out such tactics 400 years prior to W.W 1. In addition to this, ninjas even shed hoaxes and dampened the morale of enemy soldiers. For example, they might say " I hear that our officer has been killed, and another of our platoons have surrendered! It is of no use to fight any more ". These tactics may have been very successful in real battles, but they were very unorthodox.

The social status of ninjas is also heresy

As already written about many times, the conduct of ninjas was not from vanity. There are many misconceptions about ninjas including what they could actually do and also their social status. Except for part of the Edo period (]ŒËŽž‘ã), throughout Japanese history, ninjas never belonged to regular social classes. There are a lot of hypotheses about their origins but no established theory. It is said that originally they were people brought over, they were Japanese autochthon people called " Joumonjin (“ꕶl) ", mountain priests called " Yamabushi (ŽR•š) " and the chinese pharmacologist Xu Fu (™•Ÿ), the transmitter of Sun Tzu's (‘·Žq) chinese military strategy. Whatever the opinions are, they have no exact proof. What we can say is that all the groups listed above were outsiders in Japanese societies in each period.

The most plausible hypothesis about the origin of ninjas

A group of Yamabushis

A group of Yamabushis

Well, using the most dominant theory about the ancestors of ninjas here, it seems that the origin of ninjas was not necessarily one group. There was a possibility that some communities got mixed and they became the ancestors of ninjas. If so, one would think that they would eventually fall into mainstream society because any organization has to make its living with leaders, especially in such times. Some people insist that the origin of ninja groups was " Yamabushi (ŽR•š) ". Yamabushi were people living in the mountains and had a belief of "Shugendo (CŒ±“¹) ". Shugendo is a specific Japanese religion of mountains and sun worship and it is a belief mixed with Japanese animism in the prehistoric period, Buddism (•§‹³), Taoism (“¹‹³) and Shintoism (_“¹). In Japan in 646, a coup called "Taika Reforms (‘剻‚̉üV) " took place. As a result of this revolution, the Fujiwara family who were the masterminds of the coup gained a high status in Japanese religions and the former beliefs and traditions were replaced.
It is said that one of the groups who ran away into deep mountains were the Shugendo-believers. The strongholds of Shugendo are located on sacred mountains during the prehistoric age of Japan. The places correspond with the residences of ninjas, like Iga and Kouga. In addition to this, it can be thought that the wisdom and techniques that survived in the mountains were passed from Yamabushi to ninja groups. We can find similar traditions and customs between ninja and Yamabushi such as making the same symbolic signs with their fingers, or casting a common spell. Neither ninjas nor Yamabushi belonged to the general social status.

The essence of ninjas was as "a man without a fate"

During the middle ages and the Warring States period in Japan (AD 1160`1603), the social status of people was very unsettled so it was quite often that a retainer supplanted his lord. Once Tokugawa Ieyasu (“¿ì‰ÆN) formed the Edo-Shogunate (]ŒË–‹•{), Ieyasu fixed every social status to the Samurai hierarchy. It was composed of four social classes, namely, samurais, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants (Žm”_H¤).
Men who didn't belong to any of the four statuses were considered to be "untouchable" like that of the Indian caste system. Almost all ninjas were not part of this social order. Ninjas who could join the Tokugawa family could get a decent social status and jobs as a samurai such as becoming a watchman of Edo-castle or a warden for a Daimyo (‘å–¼). Almost all ninja who tried to stand up to Ieyasu or who were of a low status originally were forced to being Untouchables. Their jobs were as street performers, pimps, bathhouse workers, pyrotechnists, gardeners, garbage collectors and even criminals. Ninjas were perfect outsiders from society hence they could never be satisfied with glory and fame.