The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

Ninja firearms

The history of ninjas and fire

The relationship between ninjas and fire is incredibly deep. The introduction of guns from the Western world to Japan was in 1543. A Chinese ship on which two Portuguese were aboard drifted ashore on Tanegashima-island (q). The Portuguese sold two guns to the lords of Tanegashima. Because incidentally this was during the Age of the Warring States period, guns spread all around Japan rapidly.
But surprisingly, ninjas were well aware of gunpowder and bombs hundreds of years before that time. It is probably because some of the ancestors of ninjas were people from the Continental where the production of gunpowder and steelmaking technology had been developing since the old age. Through the introduction of guns, ninjas as specialists of firearms and guns grew in demand strongly.
At first, gunpowder was made from saltpeter (potassium nitrate), sulfur, and coal. In Japan, sulfur and coal can be found but itfs impossible to get saltpeter so ninjas had to use their resourcefulness to make a substitute of saltpeter. Ninjas fermented the vegetation and manure so that they could extract saltpeter from the fermented mixture.
The firearms utilizing such technology were just as good as those in Europe in the same age.

Guns and Explosives

You may feel that the combination of ninjas and guns is an unusual one as ninjas were classical and mysterious spies and in contrast guns are modern weapons. Such a view is distorted by our modern perception for in those days, ninjas were the contemporary technocrats regarding weapons and intelligence operatives. It can be said that they were the equivalent of top spies belonging to CIA or MI6 nowadays, like 007. It is very natural that ninjas were well educated about the latest weapons of those days. Letfs look at weapons made from concrete which ninjas actually created and used. Firstly, ninjas guns were more like artillery guns than rifles as they were a lot larger than rifles.In those days, guns were articles of value and further still, they were big and heavy. From this point, it was hard for Ninjas to accomplish their missions while holding such guns. For this reason, they created disposable and improvised firearms. Although naturally, ninjas were good at dealing with regular guns, they were not like general soldiers as they were would trick and confuse enemies. Ninjas did not necessarily have to actually wound their enemies, it was enough for ninjas if they could startle their enemies, real pain inflicting blows were only additional bonuses but not always necessary.
What kind of materials were ninjafs plain guns made from you may ask. At first, they were made from pipes made from wood, bamboo, paper, and leather. In the pipes, gunpowder, soil, scraps of iron, small stones and small nails were jammed. In almost all cases ,they could be used only once but that was enough. The purpose of the guns was to deceive their enemies making them think that military units with firearms were approaching. It was lucky if enemies were hurt by the contents of the guns.
Ninjas used bombs that are today called hand grenades. They were named " Houroku-Hiya (Ζ) " . This was a sphere with a circumference of about 120mm and a weight of about 500g. Inside of the ball was gunpowder, scraps of iron, and small nails that were tightly packed and tied by with a match. Depending on the length of the match, ninjas could adjust the time of explosion. In short, these were a kind of time bomb.
One more ninjas firearm we have to introduce is " Torinoko (̎q) " . This was also a sphere with a diameter of about 50mm and a weight of about 20g. Inside the paper that the bomb was shaped with, gunpowder was put. This was a kind of smoke bomb, it exploded with smoke and a loud sound. When enemies were caught by surprise and flinched from the noise and smoke, ninjas would take advantage of this and escape.

Houroku-Hiya(Ninja hand grenades)


(Ninja hand grenades)

Torinoko(Ninja smoke bomb)


(Ninja smoke bomb)

Fire arrows

Most certainly, ninjas used arrows with fire. The ways of using fire arrows were varied. Ninjas were able to shoot arrows on fire using simple ignition or they could set them up as a skyrocket to shoot very straight and fast. Ninjas used arrows called " Ohkuni-hiya (卑Ζ) " had a length of about 900mm in the bamboo case containers. Ohkuni-hiya had two points in which gunpowder was loaded onto. One was the fired arrow flying in the air, the other was the non fired arrow until the other gets to the target, as soon as it reached the target the second arrow would fire. These two containers were connected with a fuse. Aos the distance and angle to targets was calculated, after the arrow hit the bjective, the arrow began to burn. Of course, in most cases the target was most commonly castles and residences of enemies, rather than enemies themselves. As humans are naturally afraid of fire, it can be said that if Ninjas could just create fear in their enemies, the mission was deemed to be a success.


Ohkuni-hiya(Ninja fire arrows : Two-Gunpowder type)

Ohkuni-hiya(Ninja fire arrows : Two-Gunpowder type)


Ohkuni-hiya(Ninja fire arrows : One-Gunpowder type)

Ohkuni-hiya(Ninja fire arrows : One-Gunpowder type)

The other use of fire

Ninja Beacon(Noroshi-Zutsu)



This is a bamboo container. Gunpowder was put into it and ninjas would light it up. After that, smoke climbed into the sky. That would act as a signal for ninjas to transmit important information to their comrades. This was an easy technique using gunpowder with the expertise of a ninja. Wolf dung was used because it made smoke rise straight up. It is said that the smoke could be seen from 20km away.





When Ninjas act, it was almost always in the night. Because in those days, people did not have any electric appliances, light was always necessary to create for ninjas. For this reason, they invented a light-emitting device, named "Gandou". Gandou was a wooden cylinder with a diameter of about 200mm, a height of about 280mm and a weight of about 880g. In the gundou, a lit candle was set. This candle was supported by two gyros so regardless of how the ninja swung the gandou, the candle would keep vertical and the light never disappeared.




As various chemicals were used as fuel, the fire of a torch was hard to put out and would last a long time. Furthermore, even in varied bad conditions, like in the rain or a strong wind, the fire could keep going.