CAPTIVATING FACTS ABOUT THE REAL NINJA OF HISTORY
Added on: 23rd Oct 2016
THE NINJA SUIT
The popular image of the ninja is of the iconic ninja suit.
This is a bit of a misnomer as the ninja “suit” only appears
to be a uniform to the western eye. In truth it is just
traditional Japanese clothes with a mask attached.
Black Japanese clothes would be comparable to a black
suit in modern London. People in medieval Japan could
wear masks in the street to hide their identity, it is only
the modern ‘off the shelf’ ninja suit that looks out of place.
“NINJA WEAR BLACK, OH NO THEY DO NOT
THEY WEAR BLUE”
A popular argument today is that ninja did not wear black
as it was too dark at night time and in fact they wore blue.
This is a misunderstanding which originated from a ninja
manual called the Shoninki (True Path of the Ninja) written
in 1681. It states that a ninja can wear blue to blend in with
crowds as this colour was popular, meaning that a ninja
would not stand out in a city or town if people were looking
for them, it was used to blend in with the masses. In fact
ninja documents say to wear black on a moonless
night and white on a full moon.
NINJA DID NOT USE STRAIGHT SWORDS
The now famous “ninja-to” or ninja sword is a straight bladed
sword with a square handguard. The origin of this myth is
hard to trace. Swords which were almost straight, only having
a 1mm curve, existed in medieval Japan, as did square
handguards, but their association with the ninja appears to
come about in the 20th century. Ninja manuals point to
the use of ordinary swords.
SECRET HAND SPELLS
The ninja are famous for their secret spells with hand gestures.
This is called kuji, and has no real connection to the ninja.
Kuji as it is called by the Japanese was most likely started in
India and moved to China and to Japan. It is a series of
gestures to ward off evil in certain situations, as one would
use the sign of a cross to aid you or the sign of the horns
to ward off the evil eye. Again their connection comes in
the 20th century.
NINJA DO NOT USE SMOKE BOMBS
The image of the ninja using a smoke bomb is universal.
While not wholly incorrect it is misleading. Ninja manuals
do not really contain smoke bombs but they do contain
hundreds of recipes for fire tools such as; land mines,
hand grenades, waterproof torches, forms of Greek fire,
fire arrows, explosives and poisoned gas.
NO ONE KNOWS THE IDENTITY OF A NINJA
This is a half-truth. Ninja agents were divided into those who
could be seen Yang-ninja and those who remain hidden
Yin-ninja. Hidden ninja were those whose identity was kept
secret so that they could move out on missions without
anyone knowing who they were. On the other hand, a group
of ninja would be hired in the open, they moved with an
army, had their own barracks, were exempt from day time
camp duties and were well known among their peers.
In the later years of peace they even had their own
jacket and crest that they wore around the castle.
NINJA ARE BLACK WIZARDS
Before the image of the ninja assassin came the image
of the ninja wizard, a warrior magician. Old Japanese
movies show the ninja using magic to outwit his enemies.
Interestingly, ninja skills do hold a certain amount of
ritual magic, from magical hairpins that give invisibility to
dog sacrifice to obtain the aid of the gods. However,
standard samurai skills also hold an element of magic.
This was common for the time.
NINJA WERE NOT ASSASSINS
This is more of a semantic argument, simply put, the ninja
were not brought up from a young age studying the ways
of assassination so that they could be hired out to other
clans. Most ninja were trained in covert operations,
propaganda, spy-craft, infiltration and explosives, the
ninja were only used as assassins as secondary and
ninja manuals rarely talk about the subject.