A Conversation for Ninja

Did Ninjas exist at all?

Post 1

Mark R. Cordell

I've heard that many scholars in Japan and elsewhere are beginning to question whether Ninjas existed *at all*. There isn't really any evidence to support them, no official accounts. Fair enough ninjas were secret, but some believe they were invented to boost the morale of a flagging post WW2 Japan.

It's fair to say that Japan had assasins, any wor-torn country will, but whether these people were really ninjas with specialist training isn't certain.

Did Ninjas exist at all?

Post 2

Martin Harper

If they were invented *that* recently, you'd have thought there'd be evidence for it. You could look to see the first mention of Ninja in print, for example. Who do these scholars think invented the myth, and when?


Did Ninjas exist at all?

Post 3

Mark R. Cordell

Well precisely, there isn't any mention of Ninjas in pre 20th century writing.

This was explained on BBC Choice's Japanorama.

As the article states the image of the Ninja has been heavily distorted by the mass media anyway. It's possible the Ninja is really a japanese Robin Hood, a kernel of truth in a sea of half-remembered myth.

Did Ninjas exist at all?

Post 4

T.B. Falsename ACE: [stercus venio] I have learned from my mistakes, and feel I could repeat them exactly.

Ninjas in modern japanese popular culture were created as a replacement for the samurai warrior caste who were blamed for taking Japan into the second world war and as so were no-longer apropriate role models for young boys. As a replacement the robin-hoodesque ninja was created.

smiley - cheers

Did Ninjas exist at all?

Post 5


The use of the terms "Ninja" and "ninjutsu" are indeed relatively recent, although they do pre-date the 20th century by quite a bit. This is a fairly good aticle although the slightly dismissive air doesn't really endear it to me, but its basically right. And i do mean basically.
Its extremely gratifying that you look to Hatsumi for a kernel of truth but what he teaches is far from being "modern ninjutsu". Soke Hatsumi is just that...Soke. This is an inherited title and in Hatsumi's case refers to 9 different schools of martial arts, three of which are ninjutsu. There is a HUGE debate as to whether what he teaches is "traditional" (or Koryu). One side says it isnt because the techniques have changed. The other argues that it is because it stays true to the spirit of the original and therefore the techniques have to change. (We tend not to meet many samurai charging us these days after all!). Personally I think he teaches in a very traditional way and true to the spirit of budo. More importantly there is a clear documented lineage back some 900 years to suggest that yes, the ninja did exist. However...the way of the ninja is to spread confusion amongst other things (sorry for sounding like a bad movie there) so frankly its tough to prove anything. But then isnt that often the way with history? smiley - smileysmiley - smileysmiley - smiley

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