Likes Likes:  0
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: The Ninjutsu By Gingetsu Ito

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Melissa, TX
    Posts
    3,162
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default The Ninjutsu By Gingetsu Ito

    This was written in The Japan magazine: a representative monthly of things Japanese September 1918 Volume 9, number 5
    Pages 275-277

    The Ninjutsu
    By Gingetsu Ito

    During the period of military despotism in old Japan the art of espionage was carried to a high degree of perfection, being used to secure all kinds of secrets, to bring about desirable assassinations and for incendiarism in aid of political exigency. By some the art was called Shinobi-no-jutsu, and the professional spy was known as the ninjutsu-sha or shinobi-no-mono. History tells nothing of the origin and history of the practice. One of the more ancient books, the Wakan Sansai Zuye states that there are five methods of espionage: mokuton, by wood; suiton, by water; katon, by fire; doton, by earth; kinton, by metals; and that the real spy can make himself invisible by utilizing any of the means mentioned, especially the earth, which is everywhere and enables him to be quick and effective in his art.

    It is altogether likely that the art of espionage as known in old Japan had its origin, like so many other arts of Japan, in China. The art attained a high degree of efficiency in the days of Yoshitsune of the Minamoto clan, and was adopted by most of the great warriors of the day. The famous patriot Kusunoki Masashige, utilized the spy system to a great extent; and the Taiheiki describes how four young warriors of the Yki army stole into Akasaka castle and set fire to it. It is probable that the earliest and most successful spies were robbers, whose live had been given up to secret deeds and plans of as well as to apt modes of disguise. The art soon became a legitimate one in connection with military tactics, and assumed a right of existence not known at first; so that it came to be dilligently studied by soldiers in order to promote military efficiency, even down through the Tokugawa period.

    There were even leagues of spies, among the more famous of which were those of the Koga district in the province of Totomi and in the province of Iga also, where mountains facilitated practice in the art. The members of these mountain leagues used to practice on each other in times of peace so as to render themselves efficient in time of war. They came to be more skilful in the art of espionage and disguise generally than the experts of any other region, and were much employed by the various daimyo. These spies were known in their day as Koga-mono and Iga-mono, and the two schools of the art which they represented were known as Koga-ryu and the Iga-ryu. The ninjutsu-sha being of a low class and ever engaged in secret deeds, it is but natural that no history of them should be extant. A book of instruction in the art of espionage, called the Seininki, gives some idea of what they did but little of their origin and development. Apparently the ninjutsu-sha was not referred to in the same way in all parts of the country; for in the Kwanto districts they were known as rappa, and the Koshu district suppa.

    Of course the ninjutsu-sha regarded their calling as far away above that of robbers and ordinary doers of evil; and their art as of a nobler genius than the latter. The daimyo employing them always warned them never to be guilty of the deeds of robbers; they were never to kill, rob or set fires save in case of real necessity, and never from a purely selfish, motive. To be a first class ninjutsu-sha a man had to have the necessary mental and physical qualifications. The quality of complete self-possession was a primary essential, and next to mental acumen came agility of body and strength of physique. After the proper mental and physical qualifications then came the necessary training, which was long and arduous. They studied the meaning of physiognomy, mind-reading, principles of deception, the importance of various phenomena and atmosphere. Geography, too, they must know well, and the significance of numbers, together with local manners and customs of the places where they were set to operate. How to disguise themselves so as to pass themselves off anywhere was a fine art among them. How to give first aid in cases of accident, and the question of food, clothing and general behaviour, were all matters of earnest study to the ninjutsu-sha. The spy usually wore a braided hat, carried a rope with a hook on the end, a small slate and pencil, medicines, towels and flint and steel. The cord of the ninjutsu-shas sword was rather long, as he usually left it behind him on the ground when clambering over a wall, and then drew it after him. The big hat he used to hide his face and the rope was useful in climbing, and binding those captured. The towel was necessary when making up a disguise to mask the face or otherwise change the appearance. The towel was also used for taking a drink at night, as it was believed that although the water could not be seen, yet if it were bad the germs would stick to the fabric and the water could be sipped from it in a pure state. It was thus believed that the towel acted as a filter and that the dye in it acted as a disinfectant.

    They were seven modes of disguise common to the ninjutsu-sha. The first and most usual was as a strolling minstrel, or komuso, whom the public took to be a begging priest; another was as a yamabushi or vagrant pauper; others went as a kind of itinerant merchant, or hokashi; and there were various disguises of a simpler nature. The ninjutsu-sha had a different manner of walking at night, and by day, in mountain regions or in entering towns. He also had secrets as to the sandals he wore. Generally speaking his method was to walk with the foot slightly turned out at the toe. It is said that a good spy could stick to a wall like a spider. He could run 70 or 80 miles a day without being over-fatigued. At night the spy knew whether he was on a frequented highway or a lonely road by tasting the soil: if it were salty it was busy road, but if bitter it was a lonely road. He knew that in the dark stones and water looked white, and that dust in the distance meant the approach of men or horses when dark, but their going away if light color. It is said that a spy could know what was going on in a distant place at night by sitting on the ground and watching the cloud over the place. He could calculate the exact number of houses on a street simply from his footsteps passing through the street. Some did this by dropping a bean from the sleeve for every house passed, using both sleeves for houses on either side, and then the number left over would show how many beans were dropped. The number of unoccupied houses was noted by dropping beans from the pocket.

    It was the practice of the ninjutsu-sha to watch for a moment of confusion as the best time to gain entrance into an enemy camp. A good time for this was when all were getting up in the morning or just before a meal when all were hungry and busy getting into line for food. The spy knew all about every kind of dog, and was versed in numerous dialects. Usually the spy acted singly but sometimes two or three acting together proved more efficient. In such cases one of the spies affects illness and the other goes to a house to get some warm water or medicine. The spy then has to return to the house to offer his thanks or to bring a present, which affords him an opportunity of winning the good graces of the family. The spy was especially skilful in winning the favour of children, or the wife, the favour of the master being least sought of all.

    Another method of gaining entrance to a house that the spy wished to study was to open the door and rush in crying that he was pursued by a murderer. In which case he would usually run from room to room and when the family objected he rushed out through the back entrance as if hiding. Whereupon another spy would appear as the pursuer and go into various rooms of the house looking for the refugee. In this way he at once learned all the secrets of the house. By telling the inmates of the house that he was pursuing a most dangerous criminal they usually afford him every facility, being much excited by the story. Another method was to bring a letter to the house and invite the master out to receive it, whereupon another man arrives and rushes into the house saying the master is being assaulted. The family runs out leaving this man the house to himself when he can do as he likes. When three spies are acting together one of the most common ways was for two of them to start a fight with swords in front of a house, the fury of the fray driving them against the door of the house and often into it. This brings the whole family out to see the fight, and while they do so, the third man enters the house and gains all the knowledge he wants.

    In all kinds of tactics the ninjutsu-sha was especially expert, more particularly in various tricks for deceiving an enemy. He could ascertain the enemy's weak points and his strong points and skilfully prepare an ambuscade. It is said that when Hideyoshi committed a robbery in his youth he was pursued and came to a well into which he threw a big stone near by, saying when his pursuers came up with him that the robber had jumped into the well; and as they saw the commotion in the water made by the stone, they believed the story and the boy escaped. The art of camouflage was much practised by the spy of old Japan. Once when Hideyoshi was asked for a sword he did not have it, so he at once resolved to steal one. He accordingly hung up his straw hat near the eve of a house where the rain dropped on it; and the man inside, knowing what Hideyoshi was up to and hearing the rain drop on the hat, supposed that the boy was still standing there waiting to enter the house. Consequently the man stood nearby waiting to attack him when he tried to enter, in the meantime the boy entered from the rear and took the sword he wanted while the man stood on guard near where he heard the rain dropping on the hat. This story, whether true or not, at least illustrates the method of the ninjutsu-sha in old Japan.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    23
    Likes (received)
    2

    Default

    A lot of that seems to be taken from the book in some kind of wacky out of order summary. Clearly Itoh Sensei's discussion on those points is more fluid and complete. Still that is the first time I have seen anything in English with more than just the chapter headings translated

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Melissa, TX
    Posts
    3,162
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    I wonder if this article is the first time ninjutsu was explained in English.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    23
    Likes (received)
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by George Kohler View Post
    I wonder if this article is the first time ninjutsu was explained in English.
    That would be very interesting indeed. Itoh Sensei also wrote the definition of Ninjutsu for the Japanese Encyclopedia.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Melissa, TX
    Posts
    3,162
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    One of the more ancient books, the Wakan Sansai Zuye states that there are five methods of espionage: mokuton, by wood; suiton, by water; katon, by fire; doton, by earth; kinton, by metals; and that the real spy can make himself invisible by utilizing any of the means mentioned, especially the earth, which is everywhere and enables him to be quick and effective in his art.
    This Wakan Sansai Zuye is actually this book Wakan Sansai Zue (和漢三才図会). More information about this book can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakan_Sansai_Zue .
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    23
    Likes (received)
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by George Kohler View Post
    This Wakan Sansai Zuye is actually this book Wakan Sansai Zue (和漢三才図会). More information about this book can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wakan_Sansai_Zue .
    All on digital archive to boot! Volume 7 has stuff on Foreigners as well 和漢三才図会. 巻之7異国人物,外夷人物

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Melissa, TX
    Posts
    3,162
    Likes (received)
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Meitetsu View Post
    All on digital archive to boot! Volume 7 has stuff on Foreigners as well 和漢三才図会. 巻之7異国人物,外夷人物
    Is this online? I've looked but didn't see anything, so just wondering.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    23
    Likes (received)
    2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by George Kohler View Post
    Is this online? I've looked but didn't see anything, so just wondering.

    There is a digitized version of the book here

    http://kindai.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/898160/1

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    5
    Likes (received)
    0

    Default Ito(h) 1918

    Quote Originally Posted by George Kohler View Post
    I wonder if this article is the first time ninjutsu was explained in English.
    This is very likely. I know a German text from 1929 on Ninjutsu by Fritz Rumpf. I referred to him in my German language HOPLOblog (http://hoploblog.wordpress.com/2012/...-das-ninjutsu/) where I quoted a German 1941-Ninjutsu article. By the way: Is there a digitized version of Ito(h)'s 1918 one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Meitetsu View Post
    That would be very interesting indeed. Itoh Sensei also wrote the definition of Ninjutsu for the Japanese Encyclopedia.
    Do have more detailed source information? Thank you!

    ---
    Thomas Feldmann
    HOPLOblog, Germany
    www.hoploblog.de

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    23
    Likes (received)
    2

    Unhappy

    Sorry not yet. Access to pre war newspapers is limited as well so not sure when i will be able to get hold of Gingtetsu Itoh's newspaper articles.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •