Historically, Ninjas were people with skills in special military techniques, active in the feudal days of Japan. I will be telling Ninjas from the Iga area (now in Mie prefecture). And, Ninjas from the Koga area (now in Shiga prefecture) was also famous. These two areas had the most distinguished Ninjas in Japan. People in those days called the Ninjas, Igamono or Kogamono. Iga and Koga are neighbors. Yet, the Iga Ninja groups were more famous and much larger than the Koga Ninja. According to "the Bansenshukai" (the Bible of the Ninjas, Ninja encyclopedia), It says Iga was the birthplace of Ninjas.

   Ninja's main work was to investigate the strengths and strategies of one's enemies. It was very important to get the enemy's information to their lord. So, usually the work was not to assassinate people, but to gather information. Of course, Iga Ninjas were also trained to destroy the weapons and castles, especially using fire power. Ninjas were far from assassins

   How did the area of Iga come to train Ninja? First the Iga area was surrounded by mountains. And this conditions brought in extreme amount of fog all year round. During the Sengoku period, it was convenient for many samurais or lords who were beaten in battles to hide in Iga. So, it was very difficult to track down the hiding samurais or lords. During the 11th century, Todaiji temple, which was the biggest temples in those days, ruled the Iga territories. There were many groups against the rule of Todaiji. Todaiji called them "Kuroda no Akuto." The terms "Kuroda no Akuto" came to mean Iga Ninja later. At that time, there was an intense battle between Todaiji temple and Kofukuji temple, which was the second biggest temples, for the territories of Iga. And Iga area was also the place of "Shugendo," a remote mountainous religion where people received mysterious powers from God. And that Many Toraijin (Chinese or Korean immigrants who during these ancient times, introduced their high level culture to Japan) existed in Iga as the academics.

   This was a perilous time, when no government ruled Iga. That is to say, Iga was a very complicated area. In the process of destroying Shoen, (the Japanese old land system) the Iga samurais were mixed among those people who lived and hid in the area. And Iga Ninjas were completed at last. During the Sengoku period, Iga Ninjas made their castles for the purpose of guarding Iga territories. It was during this perilous Sengoku time period that Iga Ninjas were essential as specialized soldiers. Almost all Iga Ninjas belonged to "Iga Sokoku-ikki" (an organization that Iga samurai and Iga Niinjas made against the enemies from other countries). Yet some groups had to betray in order to survive.

   In the battle of Tensho Iga no Ran in 1581, Iga Ninjas fought against Oda Nbobunaga, who was strongest load and ruling Japan. Yet, Oda's forces were so powerful and Iga Sokoku-ikki was eventually destroyed. The battle ended in only two weeks. Almost Iga area was completely burnt. After the collapse of Iga Sokoku-ikki, Some Iga Ninjas who escaped began preparing for their next battle, while other Iga Ninjas were hired by lords from other areas.

   Todo Tatora, the lord from Iga during 1608-1615, hired Chigachi Uneme, who was the boss of the strongest Iga Ninjas group. Chigachi was the relative of Hattori's (the strongest and most famous Iga Ninja). Takatora gave his family honor and name, "Todo" to Uneme. Takatora announced to Iga Ninjas, that any who worked for other lords must return to Iga, otherwise, Takatora threatened to confiscate their lands and banish their wives and children from Iga. Takatora had a hatred of other Sengoku lords who hired Iga Ninjas. Later Takatora stationed Iga Ninjas as special soldiers to guard him as Igamono of the Todo clan. After Tokugawa Ieyasu ruled Japan perfectly in 1615, Iga Ninja's main work was not to fight in battles, but to guard the Todo Lord and investigate, in order to prevent rebellion against the Todo clan. The last highlighted incident of the Ninjas was that of the Iga Ninja, Sawamura, investigated Perry's black ship when it visited Japan in 1853. This activity was the last work of the Iga Ninja. This brochure traces the 49 true stories of real Iga Ninjas.

home