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  • With the arguable exception of pirates, there's nothing cooler than a ninja, but there's a lot of mythbusting that has to be done regarding these elusive figures in Japanese history.

  • If you happened to find yourself in feudal Japan,

  • you were less likely to come across a ninja battling a giant snake with the assistance of his summoned toad,

  • than you were to come across a seemingly regular looking peasant wearing something like this.

  • Because that's what ninjas did, they tried blend in, and nothing says 'I'm not blending in' more than battling a giant snake with a massive summoned toad.

  • In contrast to their more honor bound counterparts, the samurai, ninja, or shinobi as they were

  • often called, were a loosely defined group multi-function mercenaries and covert agents

  • whose duties included: espionage, infiltration, sabotage, assassination and in on rare occasions, open combat.

  • The Sengoku Period was an era of almost constant war in Japan filled with social upheaval, political intrigue and where the shinobi most likely originated.

  • I say 'most likely' because historians are still a bit unclear on this

  • and some people believe shinobi were sneaking around Japan almost 200 years before the Sengoku Period.

  • It turns out.. It's actually pretty tough to trace the history of a group of people whose job it was not to be traced.

  • Becoming a ninja was tough; first of all, you had to be born into it. And all the training you had to go through.

  • In addition to the standard repertoire of martial arts, survival skills, and scouting techniques,

  • you were expected to be proficient in poisons, explosives, medicine

  • and have an in-depth knowledge of various professions so that you could disappear into the civilian population if the need arose.

  • On top of that, long distance runs, climbing, stealth walking and stealth swimming were musts for a mid-15th century ninja.

  • The ninja were sneaky, and not always honorable. Dressing as the enemy to cause confusion,

  • and even firing upon the backs of friendly troops causing them to charge backward and

  • facilitate a retreat were not below the ninja. Diverting the enemy with fire, hiding in trees

  • disguised among the foliage, scattering plant life over the water to conceal movement and

  • curling up in a ball to imitate a rock were all among the techniques

  • employed by the ninja to carry out their clandestine tasks.

  • In addition to disguising themselves among the civilian population, ninja also used a wide variety of tools and weapons:

  • hand claws, climbing cleats, climbing hooks, concealed cane swords, caltrops, throwing darts, chain and sickle weapons and the list goes on!

  • Pretty much since their inception. Ninja have been all over pop culture and there have been quite a few mystical abilities attributed to them.

  • Flight, invisibility, shapeshifting and the ability to split into multiple bodies are sometimes claimed as skills possessed by the ninja.

  • One Nakagawa Shoshujin claimed in writing that he had the ability to change into birds and other animals.

  • While these skills were probably not part of the ninjutsu training, it's easy to see how the ninja techniques inspired

  • by elements of nature could lead to pretty fantastic storytelling.

  • But all that glitz aside, there's actually quite a bit of historical haze and legend surrounding the ninja

  • , and you know what, that just means that they were pretty darn good at doing their jobs.

  • After all, you never really know the truth about a ninja

  • until it's too late...

  • Thanks for watching this episode of The Japan Show, if you have any questions or suggestions

  • for future episodes, be sure to leave a comment below, and if you want to see more episodes

  • like this one, head over to youtube.com/watchthejapanshow and subscribe!

With the arguable exception of pirates, there's nothing cooler than a ninja, but there's a lot of mythbusting that has to be done regarding these elusive figures in Japanese history.

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忍者のすべて (All About Ninja)

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    阿多賓 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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