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
Tomorrow in Japan is Shōwa Day. It is the start of the so-called Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク, Gōruden Wīku). Often abbreviated as GW, Golden Week is a term applied to a series of public holidays between April and May. Golden Week The current holidays celebrated during this period are: April 29 – Shōwa Day (昭和の日, Shōwa […]
A tenugui (手拭い) in its simplest definition is a traditional Japanese hand towel made of cotton. It is usually about 35 by 90 centimeters in size. It is typically plain woven and though there are also plain designs, it has usually repeating patterns printed/dyed on its surface. But a tenugui is not just a plain […]
As noted in the history of judo, it was primarily made or developed by Jigoro Kano as a self-defense. As years passed by, it was expected for judokas to test their skills against each other. Thus, competitive judo began. History of Competitive Judo Competitive judo is a vital aspect of judo. It is where judokas […]
Kendo has a very long and rich history of development in Japan. Some of the legendary sword masters of ancient Japan left writings to explain their philosophy and methods. Even though they are not really practitioners of the modern kendo, nevertheless, their philosophies and methods became a part of it. The following two tabs change […]
The Symphony No. 9, a.k.a. “Choral”, is probably one of the most famous and beloved classical music in Japan. I played the (probably shortened) 4th movement on accordion as a member of a band when I was an elementary school student. (Other music I remember we played are the school song, and theme from “Space […]
Just like other martial arts, practitioners also are ranked by kendo grades. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text – June 1, 2015 The Nomikai – Bonding Through Drinking – May 28, […]
Bizen country, its main area was southern part of the present Okayama prefecture, was very famous for swordsmithing. It’s also famous for pottery called “Bizen-yaki”, but in this post, I’m going to focus on swordsmithing only. Swordsmiths in Bizen There were a great number of swordsmiths in Bizen. According to several websites, it seems […]
Who is William Merrell Vories? William Merrell Vories was an american from Leavenworth, Kansas who at a young age of 24 left his country and moved to Japan to teach English at Hachiman Commercial High School and since his arrival at Omihachiman on February 2, 1905, he has called this place his new home. He quickly […]
Firefly watching in Shirochi, Takahashi In Okayama prefecture, there are at least seven places listed on the website that I visited. I decided to pick one with easy access and free parking area. The viewing spot is located in Ochiai-cho, Shirochi, Takahashi-shi. In other viewing spots, artificially-reared fireflies are released to join other wild fireflies. While in […]
If you go to the Fukiya village by public transport, you need to go to Takahashi, which is also a lovely place to visit. There are old samurai residences, a temple with Japanese garden, and above all, a castle on the mountain. The name of the city is “Takahashi”, but the train station is “Bicchuu […]