In Search of the Niinja

In Search of the Niinja by Antony Cummins

Book: In Search of the Niinja by Antony Cummins Read Free Book Online
Authors: Antony Cummins
generals, including Ukita, and thus obtain what you need about the enemy’s tactics. Or you can make [the shinobi] spread disinformation to cause confusion among the enemy, as this is the first priority of warfare. Therefore, be sure not to let even your allies know of this arrangement [that you have with your ninja]’. Next, Lord Ieyasu and Ii chose dozens of people from Iga and Koka who were older and more experienced and sent them to those enemy Daimyo to spread disinformation.
    They [the people of Iga and Koka] went to the enemy area and spread rumours, saying that some people had betrayed their Lords. Also, they ‘hung around’ in and on the outside of castle [boundaries], and went to the Lords of the west and informed the people that certain Lords would betray Lord Ishida and they would allow the Kanto east armies into their castles when they came. Also, they accused some people who [were loyal retainers] in the castle of being long term spies and said that they were reporting everything to the eastern side. In this manner, the people of the castles were confused by this disinformation.

    We have to eliminate the obvious shared skill sets, which are common to all forms of spying, such as the work of double agents. The next step is to investigate the topics which appear to have too many identical details to be simply coincidence and that show the same skills shared by Japan and China.

The Art of Assassination
    Whilst ninja are not primarily assassins, they were called upon to assassinate at times. Assassination is not a medieval concept of course and is as old as man. But it is important to note that the subject is discussed in more detail in Chinese texts and it is possible that this art of assassination was a stand-alone profession, outside of spying. The ninja on the other hand, without doubt killed during their missions but it is not clear if the killing was the primary aim and stealing a by-product or if the theft was the primary goal and the killing was ancillary. The thirteenth chapter of the Bansenshukai goes into detail about infiltrating a house and most of the examples given require killing the occupants; however it is not clear why the shinobi is entering the house. In contrast, a ninja when infiltrating a castle appears not to kill people, making his main role that of information gatherer or arsonist. When infiltrating a house, killing seems to have been the norm. Therefore, calling shinobi ‘assassins’ is potentially misleading, as they did perform assassinations but it does not appear to have been their primary role. Remembering that killing was a fundamental part of life in the Sengoku period and killing is not necessarily assassination, Fujibayashi’ s silence on why a ninja should kill means we do not know if they went to assassinate, or if they went to steal. 55

The Art of Physiognomy
    The ‘skill’ of understanding a man’s character by his features was a mixture of pseudo-science and mysticism. This ‘art’ enjoyed an extensive period of popularity in both the east and west. However, here it truly lights a path of dissemination of information from China to Japan. China’s physiognomic analysis predates that of Japan and was used as part of Chinese espionage. The Natori-ryu of Japan includes this art in their curriculum as a part of their ninja way, showing a real connection between Chinese and Japanese intelligence skills.

The Art of Transformation and Mutation – Bakemono-jutsu
    This quite specific skill is often translated as ghost-skill, however, the western and eastern concepts of ‘ghost’ differ. Bakemono can have connotations of invisibility and transformation, which better fits the skill description. The idea is to become the enemy, to don his clothes, to use his speech and thus to infiltrate. The Chinese manuals echo this skill: ‘Disguising some men as enemy emissaries is the means by which to sever their supply lines.’

The Art of the Thief
    In China, the art of the

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