Posts Tagged ‘espionage’

Ninja expert and author of the “Real Ninja” book, Dr. Hirohisa Oda, explains the different types of weapons commonly used by ninja and how it was important that they were hidden well or camouflaged by their professions.

To learn more fascinating “REAL” facts about ninja in feudal Japan, click on the right order section to download your copy or REAL NINJA today!

**Dr. Oda has just come across some of his old ninja artifacts! Check back often as we update the site with these new items!**

Matsuo Bashoo was the most famous poet during the Edo Period in Japan. There is strong evidence that some historians believe he may have also been a Ninja (details can be found in Dr. Oda’s “Real Ninja” book).Monument for Matsuo Bashoo

Matsuo Bashoo Monument

The “Real Ninja” spends a few pages on Bashoo’s life and details why it is possible that Bashoo may have been a Ninja and hired by the Edo Shogunate. It was not uncommon for Ninja to use their undercover status as an artist or physician to access places easily without being questioned too much.

Matsuo Bashoo Gravesite - Was he a ninja?Matsuo Bashoo Gravesite

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Another lesser known fact about ninjas is that many had skills and knowledge of magic. They could use simple illusions to distract or complete their mission to “steal” information for their employer. Below is an interview with Dr. Hirohisa Oda. We spoke about what ninjas were and how they did their work. Dr. Oda shows us a little “slight of hand” techniques that ninjas may have known how to do to distract someone or make something seemingly disappear!

Ninja surprise attack techniques

Ninja Sword AttackOccasionally, ninjas were hired to assassinated people. Whenever possible, ninjas attacked by using the element of surprise. They were also known to use techniques which would make it difficult to determine who initiated the attack by using small archery devices in the twilight or at night. Small arrows were advantageous because they were easily concealable and they could be used at close range. After they disabled their opponent quickly by surprise, they used spears or swords to quickly finish him/her off.

The ninja used ash to blind their opponents so they could attack, incognito, with swords; the ash was concealed in various places, such as in eggshells, wrapped in cloth, or poured into sword sheaths. The victims would be very surprised by the ash coming out of a sword sheath. Since ash was available anywhere, it became a convenient tool in the ninja’s repertoire of techniques.

The ninja sometimes urinated on doorway tracks to make them slide without any noise. Although this was a clever technique and worked well in most circumstances, it could not be used against one’s ninja enemies because they would identify the smell right away.

(content taken from Page 18 and 19 of “Real Ninja” by Dr. Hirohisa Oda)

Real Ninja Book Cover

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History of the Ninja – Sun Tzu

(The following excerpt was taken was from the “Real Ninja” book)

Sun Tzu Kanji
Sun Tzu Kanji

The original concept of the ninja was described in “Sun Tzu”, a book on military science, written by “Sun Wu” in approximately 400 B.C. The book was written because of the need for military expertise during the Warring States Period in China, which extended from the end of the 5th century B.C. to the early 3rd century B.C. Many kingdoms rose and declined during these centuries of continual war, which explains the remarkable development of military technology.

The most famous part of the” Sun Tzu” states that, “you should know the enemy and you should know yourself-even if you fight one hundred times, you will win one hundred times.” This expression indicates you must not only collect intelligence regarding your enemy, but you must also collect information about your own warring capability. Even if you feel brave, you should not take on the risk of fighting a superior enemy. Instead, you should form good diplomatic relations with your neighboring kingdoms. Of course, you can wage war against distant kingdoms because the threat to your own kingdom is minimized by distance.

According to the “Sun Tsu”, the first step in preparing for war and survival is gathering intelligence; espionage is an essential intelligence collecting tool and an essential factor in designing a systematic method of warfare.

It is thought that the “Sun Tzu” was hand carried like other Chinese character texts, such as the “Thousand Chinese Characters”, to Japan via immigrants who traveled through the Korean Peninsula and immigrants who traveled the sea currents from Southern China. Therefore, it is undoubtedly true that the Japanese nobility utilized the ideas of “Sun Tzu” during their political power struggles.

Old fashioned warfareThe ninja were fundamentally intelligence spies, not warriors, and carried out most of their activities during peacetime. Even if there were no major wars going on, the rulers always needed to have reliable intelligence because there were always conflicts in the court and among local monarchs. In approximately the 6th century A.D., Japan realized the necessity of developing an integrated governing system. As society developed, politics became more sophisticated and the high-ranking nobles needed information to defeat political enemies and to prevent rebellions. The majority of noble people in Japan during the 6th century were immigrants from China and Korea. Undoubtedly, they knew of the “Sun Tzu”, and must have incorporated some of its concepts on warfare into their political thinking.

These concepts also became the basis for ninja tactics.

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Ninjas – Reality vs. Hollywood

(The following excerpt was taken was from the Preface on page 4 of “Real Ninja” book)

The ninja were not super human. Ninja were, in fact, very smart people who had a working knowledge of physics and chemistry. Generally speaking, ninja were not well paid for their espionage and other activities. Ninja activities were kept so secret that there is very little information available on them in standard history books; however, if you read carefully you may come across passages concerning their martial arts and espionage activities. Most of the information found on ninja is related to their prowess in the martial arts; yet their talent and activities extended far beyond the martial arts. The ninja played an important role in many historical incidents; mainly as espionage agents and information gatherers. Even today, collection and analysis of information is considered to be very important among financial and administrative institutions.

The “Real Ninja” book describes the ninja as they actually were, as opposed to the movie industry perspective that emphasizes a narrow range of ninja activities.

Real Ninja Book Cover

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Real Ninja Book Cover

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"The student of ninjutsu should have an understanding of the history of the ninja, and that is just what one gets with "Real Ninja". I recommend this book for any serious student of ninjutsu." – M. Chesbro (Rainier, Washington)