We are ninjas: What ninja is and the origin
What is “ninja”?
From “Mansenshuukai” a.k.a. “Bansenshuukai” (a famous ninjutsu-sho, a book about ninja’s tricks), an excellent ninja is described as one who makes a great success but;
- Makes no sound
- Has no odor
- Remains nameless
- Never win a name for himself / herself
- Makes outstanding achievements just like creating this world
About the expression “creating this world”, there is an explanation in the same paragraph;
In spring, the world is peaceful, plants grow and flowers bloom.
In summer, it’s hot and plants grow thick.
In autumn, it’s cool, leaves turn into red and yellow, then fall to the ground.
In winter, it’s cold, the world becomes white with snow and frost, and plants die back.
A lot of things happen in a day as well as in a season, but nobody knows who makes those happen.
An efficient ninja is similar to this – he / she has an intelligence which is vast like the sky, so nobody can detect it.
That’s why he / she looks like unintelligent.
His / her wisdom is as thick as the earth and as deep as the stream pool, so it’s beyond people’s thoughts.
Ninja were spies at that time.
Their duties were collecting information, protecting information, deluding enemies and fighting a guerrilla war.
Of the four duties, collecting information was the main one.
Thus, they had got to be mentally / physically invisible.
When they exposed themselves for undercover investigations, they disguised as nobody – just one of the common people.
They made full use of their knowledge and intelligence to attack their target when they had a chance.
This kind of ninjutsu (ninja’s tricks) was called “you-nin” in “Mansenshuukai”.
Sneaking into enemy’s territory without being seen was called “in-nin”.
For another ninja group, “you-nin” meant revealing his / her identity as a ninja and “in-nin” meant hiding it.
If there was a very famous ninja known as the best of the best, few enemies dared to take risks to infiltrate and challenge him / her.
This was the trick of “you-nin” for them, and in this case, ninja hadn’t got to be “invisible”.
In addition, as I wrote in “the word ninja” post, a ninja has to be a “right” person.
To be a ninja, you must have a right mind because lots of ninjutsu can be used for thefts.
If you use ninjutsu for your own (evil) purposes, you are not a ninja any more, you are just a thief.
The origin of ninja
There are various opinions about the origin of ninja.
One of them was that it was from China.
In the book entitled “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu (pronounced as “Son shi” in Japanese), there are descriptions about spying, and in the ninjutsu-sho called “Shouninki” or “Seininki”, it is said this idea was named as “shinobi” in Japan.
In “Nihon Shoki” (The Chronicles of Japan) which was finished in 720, there is a story of a man named “Michi no Omi no Mikoto” who is considered as the origin by some people;
In 663 B.C., he was ordered by the Emperor Jinmu, “Build a huge house and hold a party to seduce a hostile force and kill them”.
He chose strong men and sent them to the opponent’s territory.
At the party, the targets got drunk, then he stood up and started to sing.
His men were ordered to attack the enemies when he sang a song at the party.
All the members of the force were killed.
Some say this was the first ninjutsu used in Japan, but the Emperor Jinmu is a legendary person, so you cannot say “Michi no Omi no Mikoto” truly existed.
So, it seems “Ootomo no Sabito” (or “Ootomo no Sainyuu”) is much more often considered as the first ninja in Japan.
He is said to have worked for “Shoutoku Taishi” (Prince Shoutoku) as “Shinobi” (Consisted of three characters. See the “Asuka” era in “How was ninja called?” image in “the word ninja” post), and played an important role to win the battle against the Mononobe clan in 587.
The Ootomo clan is thought to be descendants of “Michi no Omi no Mikoto”.
Also according to “Nihon Shoki”, a spy called “Kamata” from Silla (In Japanese, “Shiragi” or “Shinra”), one of the kingdoms of Korea, was caught in Tsushima in 601.
Test your comprehension
You are a modern ninja.
One day, your master gives you an undercover mission to an opponent IT company.
What do you wear for the interview at the company?
A business suit as others do.
A ninja uniform! I always show my pride to be a ninja!
I shave my head too!
Because I want to show the target I have nothing to hide, and can be trusted!
If you chose 2, please read this post again.
Seriously, if you are an employer, would you hire the person dressed like that?
If you chose 3, please read this post from the beginning really carefully again.
It is highly probable you get arrested before you arrive at the company.
There is always something you’ve got to hide, you see.
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
Continuing our feature about Japan’s Golden Week, this post will feature the second and third holidays, the Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day. Constitution Memorial Day The Constitution Memorial Day, or Kenpō Kinenbi (憲法記念日) as it is known in Japan, is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated every May 3. The date signifies […]
After visiting the port of Miyanoura on the west coast of the island of Naoshima. We decided to visit the port of Honmura located on the islands east coast. Home to the Art House Project. To get around the island tourist could take various forms of transportation such as the bus or rental bikes. Rental […]
Running tips by ninja It was very important for ninja to run as far as possible and as quick as possible. There are several know-hows: [Where to look] When you run a long distance, look at close distance. This makes you put your chin down. (If you run with your chin up, it will […]
Happy New Year! Everything you do in the first days of the New Year can mean something or will affect the whole year. Hatsu or “first” of something are important according to Japanese culture: the first shrine visit, first dreams, and the first sunrise have impacts on how your year will turn out. The following […]
Japan is home to different types of cakes and snacks. Every prefecture has their own version of a snack. One of the popular food in Japan especially during the New Year holiday season is mochi or the Japanese rice cake. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) […]
Monkey in a nursery tale The most famous tale of monkey is “Saru Kani Gassen” (The Battle Between A Monkey And Crabs). Saru is Japanese for monkeys, Kani is crab. Gassen is battle, pronounced as “Kassen” when it’s used as one word, Gassen when it’s a part of a word like “Yuki-gassen” (Snowball Battle). Outline […]
Bizen Osafune Nihon-tou Denshuu-jyo (Bizen Osafune Japanese sword learning centre) 1 Here, you can see swordsmithing on Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays for free. Note that they don’t demonstrate in summer because it is too hot for swordsmiths to forge. General information Open from 9:00 to 16:00, closed during lunchtime (12:00 – 13:00). On Sundays […]
A nomikai (飲み会) is a drinking party event particular to Japanese culture. It is a part of the culture of most places of employment. They are most often held in restaurants or izakaya (drinking place, bar), usually with everyone seated at one large table or occupying a separated section of the venue. The following two […]
As what we know from our previous posts about holidays in Japan, almost every month in Japan has a national holiday. November is not an exception of that. There are two holidays for the month of November and those are the Culture Day or 文化の日 (Bunka no Hi) on November 3 and Labor Thanksgiving Day […]
Momotarou “Momotarou” is one of the very well-known folk tales in Japan, and it’s a quite popular character in Okayama where I live, so I felt this would be a good theme to start. Like many children’s stories, Momotarou is about “The good defeats the evil forces”. Outline Once upon a time, there was an […]