Military Review

Samurai and Ninja (Part Two)

Among the flowers - cherry, among people - samurai.
A medieval Japanese proverb.

The way of the samurai was straight, like an arrow shot from a bow. The path of the ninja - winding, like the movement of a snake. The samurai tried to be knights, and openly fought under their banners. Ninjas preferred to operate under the banner of the enemy, under the cover of night, mingling with the enemy warriors. However, mastery is always mastery and one cannot help admiring. Admiration for the skill of the ninja looks through in the ancient Japanese narrations here and there, and it turned out to be impossible to hide it.

For some reason, the ninja “garlic” was more complicated than the European one ...

For example, here’s what Buke Meimokusho wrote about how ninjas usually acted during the war: “Shinobi-monomi were people used in covert operations; they climbed into the mountains, disguised as collectors of firewood, and collected information about the enemy ... They were unsurpassed masters when it came to moving across enemy backs in a different guise. ”

There were no problems for them and penetrate the locks of the enemy. For this it was enough to shave your head and disguise yourself as a komusô - a mendicant monk playing the flute. In the annals of the Ashikaga shoguns, there is documentary evidence confirming that the ninja from Iga or Koga acted in a similar way: “As for the ninja, they are said to be from Iga and Koga, and freely penetrated into enemy castles. They watched secret events and were perceived by others as friends. ” Recall the feature film "The Shogun", where a former Christian monk, who returned to the religion of the fathers and became a translator at Blackthorn, went on reconnaissance, disguised as a monk. The only test he was subjected to was that he was forced to take off his hat, look at his hair.

It also tells how people from Iga acted in the war. So in the army of the shogun Yosihisa under Magari there were several famous shinobi. And when he attacked Rock-kaku Takayori, the Kawai family Aki-no-kami from Iga, truly deserving of his thanks at Magari, again proved to be very skillful shinobi. Everyone admired the actions of people from Iga, and fame and glory came to them like this. In “Sima kiroku” you can read that “shu * from Iga secretly climbed into the castle and lit it, and this was the signal for the beginning of the assault, and“ Asai San dykes ”reported that the syno-no-mono from Iga province were specially hired to set fire to the castle.

From these texts it is clear that samurai, or rather, let's say so - the samurai warlords could hire shinobi to set fire to the locks that samurai were going to storm, and ... openly admired their skill. Yes, and there was something to admire! So, when the samurai besieged the Sawayama castle, ninjas in the number of 92 people freely entered it, presenting passes ... in the form of paper lanterns with images of the castle owner’s mona on them. Before that, one of them stole one such flashlight, on the model of which copies were made. And so, holding them in their hands, these ninja freely passed the main gate of the castle, and no one stopped them. It is clear that those who saw them could not even think that they were “agents of the enemy.” But inside, without attracting attention, the ninjas, set fire to this castle at the same time in many places, and this caused not only the strongest fire, but also panic among the samurai who defended it!

Samurai and Ninja (Part Two)

Images of ninja attacks in Japanese painting are few. Apparently, the Japanese themselves believed that there was nothing to be proud of.

But "people from Iga" were not at that vassal of anybody, but they were just mercenaries who were paid for the service, and not like the samurai who received, as you know, rice rations for the whole time of service, but for concrete work . True, in what form these payments were made — money or in the same rice coca is unknown, samurai considered it an obscene business to talk about money and never discussed this subject out loud.

In addition to the arson attacks during the Sengoku period, military chronicles of that time note that sinobi or ninjas were invited to perform other tasks. For example, they performed the duties of Kantyou (spies) who were in the enemy's rear, acted as the teisatsu (scouts), who acted in the “front line”, and kisho (“ambush attackers”), that is, the secret killers, whose victims were people from the commanding composition of the enemy. Among them were even people like the Koran ("the seekers of rumors") - a kind of agitators of antiquity. However, it is necessary to distinguish professional ninjas who passed their skills from generation to generation, such as ninjas from Iga, from ordinary samurai, who, on behalf of their overlords, performed various secret missions on the enemy’s territory and, in particular, played the role of “sent Cossacks”.

Ninja - darts.

By the way, to answer the question why there were so many people from Iga and Koga among the ninjas is not difficult if you look at the map of Japan. Both of these territories are a difficult region of mountains and forests, where it was difficult for the army units to reach, where it was difficult to fight, but to defend from the enemy and hide, on the contrary, it was very easy! It should also be noted here that there have never been many professional ninjas. Tokugawa Ieyasu once hired 80 ninjas from Kog to sneak into the castle of Imagawa clan. There are detachments in 20, 30, and even 100 people, but no more, whereas in many works of art, whether it be a novel or a movie, ninjas are attacked by almost whole crowds.

Weapon samurai against ninja weapons.

By the way, Tokugawa Ieyasu himself would never have become a shogun if it were not for the ninja from Iga. It was the ninja from Iga led by Hattori Hanzo who led Ieyasu by secret paths through the lands of Iga to the province of Mikawa, where he was safe, and thus saved his life. But with the onset of the “Tokugawa World” in Japan, the demand for their services immediately fell sharply, and their art began to decline. And although there was even an article in the 1649 shogunate’s military law that allowed a daimyk with an income in 10000 coca to hire ninjas for his service, there was no particular need for this. But just at this time, by analogy with the glorification of his samurai past in Japan, the most ridiculous myths about ninjas began to spread, allegedly able to fly and walk on water "like a dry land".

Typical water spider. One on one foot, the other on the other and ... forward, across the river, leaning on a pole!

Known, for example, the book "Bansen Syukai" (in translation it means "Ten Thousand Rivers Flow into the Sea") is something like a manual on ninjutsu with numerous drawings, with explanations. However, to relate to what is written in it, you need to be critical, and to a greater extent than the same British historian Stephen Turnbull allowed himself to do. For example, in one of his books, he cites an illustration from this book depicting a device called a “water spider” (mizugumo), allegedly allowing a ninja to “walk on water” without much difficulty. In fact, it suffices to recall the school course of physics and Archimedes' law in order to understand that the one who invented it, he never used this device.

There were people who had experiments with him and they all ended in failure. And the thing is not that they did not know any "subtleties" of handling this "water spider." Simply, the lifting force of this wooden mini-raft is very small and is only enough to keep an object weighing no more than 2,5 kg on the surface of the water. But in this case we are talking about an adult man, even if it is a Japanese ninja! And the conclusion is unequivocal: this device is not suitable either for movement on water, or to force the swamps.

But why, then, the author of "Bansen Syukai" wrote all this and put a drawing of a "spider" in his book? This is a mystery, over which historians are fighting to this day. Maybe he did not check the work of the "water spider", and maybe even just decided to joke, although outwardly everything he had written and looks very impressive.

Equally unsuccessful is the way to force a water obstacle by sticking one's legs into two wooden bands — an ikada tied together with a rope so that the legs do not part in them. Stephen Turnbull points out that this floating vehicle “must be very unstable,” but in reality it just does not work the same way as mizugumo!

On the other hand, in this book there are a number of interesting and easily realizable proposals on the part of secret writing, communications with flags, and intelligence in general. But didn't Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scout movement and the author of 32 books on scouting, write about the same thing in his time? That's just his advice can be used, but the surprising and superficially spectacular Mizugumo Shinobi scouts, alas, is impossible!

There are simply amazing books on ninjutsu that give impressive lists of various gadgets that ninjas supposedly used. These are all kinds of lanterns, night lamps, “fiery candles”, arrows, long-burning torches, pipes to breathe under water and to eavesdrop through the wall, boats, some could be disassembled and mounted on them the tools that they had in all this arsenal, on the march behind them would have come a whole caravan of equipment. And it would take so much time to do all this, that a whole factory (and not just one!) Would be needed for the ninjas to produce all these “secret” gadgets! But this was not enough for the authors of other books! In 1977, a certain Hatsumi Masaaki wrote a book about ninjas, and there are such outlandish types of weapons and devices that they are no longer found in any ancient text. It is believed that it is designed for children, and it may be that he just came up with something like a fairy tale. However, the trouble is that many unsuspecting people took his work seriously so that the American Donn Draeger - a researcher of Japanese martial arts - fell for his bait. He also wrote the book “Nin-jutsu: the art of being invisible”, where nothing had “inserted” many apparatuses invented by Mr. Hatsumi. Well, after this "valuable information" he borrowed, unfortunately, a number of our Russian authors. Anyway, on the Internet, all these "discoveries" are!

How do you like, for example, a submarine with a huge dragon's nose above the water? The ballast is made of sandbags, people are paddled on it with oars, the air supply is designed for several hours, so you can get close to the enemy ship and drill holes in it. To do this, the “dragon submarine” even provides a special gateway!

But Kagyu is a “fiery bull,” and this is even more interesting. In the figure we see a wooden bull, put on wheels, from the mouth of which the pressure of air supplied by the bellows erupts burning oil. Bull pushing two ninjas. But how, where and how could a ninja have the opportunity: firstly, it is a “fire-breathing miracle to build,” secondly, to deliver it to the wrong place, and, thirdly, to use it?

A huge stone, if you hang it on supports, should be retracted, pulling on the rope, so that it, as a pendulum, would go forward and hit the wall of an enemy castle. The most durable structures would not withstand his blows. But look, on what arc this stone had to move, and from what distance and how high to fall. It turns out that this “car” should have been simply unrealistically huge.

Hatsumi Masaaki reported that ninjas tied themselves to Yamidako kites and soared over enemy territory, studied its location, and even shot at ground targets with a bow! They could also quietly land from such kites in the rear of the enemy. Indeed, the Japanese were skilled at launching large kites. And it is logical to assume that they could construct a snake that would be able to lift a person into the air in order to observe the enemy. So in the Russian naval navy in the early twentieth century, snakes with an observer on board at sea were launched. But why was all this necessary for the ninja, to whom any gates were opened in the clothes of the monks, is not clear?

It is reported that they also had light gliders that were launched using flexible bamboo poles and ropes — that is, it was something like a huge slingshot. As a result, the glider flew into the air with the pilot and flew over any high wall. Moreover, in flight, ninjas allegedly could also throw bombs at enemies.

Finally, what exactly is the ninja come up with the prototype tankabout which Draeger wrote on the basis of Hatsumi’s book that for a quick penetration into the enemy’s camp, located in a deep gorge or at the foot of the mountain, the ninjas used the “big wheel” daisyrin - a cart on high wooden wheels. A gondola with loopholes was suspended between them, through which the ninjas inside it could shoot rifles or throw grenades again. And if from the mountainside unexpectedly rushed down not one, but dozens of such "tanks", then even the most brave fighters lost their heads. The carts crushed people with wheels and struck with fire - here you have the first tanks, even without a motor!

Well what can I say? It is not even история and not a fantasy, but ... clinic! The samurai would know about it - so they probably would have died laughing, although today there are people who believe in all this nonsense, because who wrote it? Japanese and American! And so they, of course, everyone knows!

Well, seriously speaking, it is known that ninjas were last used by the Japanese government in 1853, when a squadron of Commodore Matthew Perry with 250 guns on board “open” it for the benefit of foreigners approached its coast. Then Ninja Sawamura Yasusuke sneaked onto Perry's flagship, who was supposed to get the aliens' secret papers there. Although he got the papers, it turned out that all his works were in vain: they were not secret orders, but frivolous poems that the gentleman considered indecent to read in a circle of decent ladies, and it was here that the American Commodore kept these poems much more reliable than important documents ...

Here we need to remember that the very first samurai, Prince Yamato-Takeru, who put on women's clothes and with the help of this masquerade, went and killed two Kumaso brothers can rightfully be considered the very first Japanese ninjas ...

* Military unit (Jap.)

The author expresses his gratitude to the company "Antiques of Japan" for the photos and information provided.
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. parusnik
    parusnik 14 August 2015 07: 21
    Thank!..Well what can I say? This is not even history and fantasy, but ... a clinic!.. So the Japanese learn about themselves, a lot of what they themselves did not know .. smile the American commodore kept these verses much more reliable than important documents ...... That's right, I kept important documents in the most open place .. which you won’t even think about .. smile
    1. max702
      max702 14 August 2015 20: 18
      I’ll tell you honestly, I don’t know if it was .. BUT all the same ..
      1. Zoldat_A
        Zoldat_A 14 August 2015 23: 31
        Quote: max702
        I’ll tell you honestly, I don’t know if it was .. BUT all the same ..

        My favorite hoku:

        A snowflake in my palm melted
        Samurai life.

        You can’t say more and more precisely ...
  2. RuslanNN
    RuslanNN 14 August 2015 07: 35
    Against the Soviet warrior, neither a samurai nor a ninja helped Japan.
    1. CosmoKot
      CosmoKot 14 August 2015 08: 00
      That's right, by the time of the "Soviet soldiers" they simply did not exist anymore.
  3. RiverVV
    RiverVV 14 August 2015 08: 14
    Of course, tales of the ninja - these are the tales. The Japanese are extremely pragmatic people and would not invent sophisticated machines where simple methods can be dispensed with. Even in large buildings, no one really bothered. The simplest levers, blocks, many, many workers and the kind, parting word of the samurai who watched the work - and the castle is ready.

    Likewise, none of the ninja really hoped for training and all sorts of prodigies. What for? If the samurai understands who he is dealing with, he will draw out a sword with a 100% predictable result. If not, then why bother carrying spy gear with you? By the way: the same steel darts, stars and other throwing rubbish were used not only by ninjas. They were carried with them by merchants, porters and everyone who went on long journeys. And they threw in a handful, according to the principle: "at least one will get."

    Those interested can google and watch "Seven Samurai". The film is historically true and the outline of the plot in it is just the confrontation between a group of ronin and a gang of robbers. These gangs were often hired as spies and auxiliary troops (yes, those same "ninja squads of 100 people"). Estimate the number of "ninja weapons" among peasants and robbers. It is equal to zero. None of the peasants runs with flails and nunchucks. None of the bandits throw shurikens. But all the losses of the ronin are from firearms.
    1. kalibr
      14 August 2015 09: 46
      Great comment!
      1. Igarr
        Igarr 14 August 2015 11: 42
        No, people, you are incorrigible.
        Typical guards Rzhevsky ... who will come - and all ....
        Well, let me even dream, huh?
        Well, what are you ... yourself like a ninja ... a ninja ... ninja, in short ... pragmatic, practical. Do not believe in anything.
        And it’s so cool to imagine that, say, a long time ago ... in a distant Galaxy .... oh, damn it, it's not from there.
        Good cycle.
        Nice couple - author and RiverW.
        I will only read you.
        When pragmatism will prevail.
        I liked the cycle, I liked it.
        Now, Vyacheslav and Ninja-RiverW - let's talk about arhats. The indestructible-impenetrable monks of Shao-Lin. Especially about the art of "easy steps".
        1. kalibr
          14 August 2015 12: 09
          Dear Igor, there is a problem with your order. All texts about Japan are written within the framework of my scientific topic: English-language historiography of armor and weapons of Eurasia. That is, samurai - and everything about them is mandatory, ninjas - for the campaign, monks-sohei - will be, but there is nothing about Shaolin. It just so happened! And to search and grasp an unfamiliar topic - alas, there is no time at all. So let someone else please you. But there will be three more interesting stories about Japan, so "not everything is so bad." You just can't give everything in a row. All the best to you!
    2. Mikhail3
      Mikhail3 14 August 2015 14: 18
      Quote: RiverVV
      interested persons can google and watch "Seven Samurai".

      The first doubts about luxurious ninjas and brave samurai arose in my young, carefully guarded party from unnecessary information to the brain, just as a result of watching Japanese films. It is Japanese, not American, and at the same time historical. Samurai especially delivered ... Clumsy clumsy guys who can neither move nor stand normally. These, of course, were the actors, but that was exactly how the director saw it all.
      And most importantly ... The dialogue is about this - are you really going to apply THIS RECEPTION !? Oh God! Everything is dead! Everyone will die!! And these cowardly dreams of some secret technique, secret technique, incredible preparation ... All this is not for warriors, and not even for men. Illusions of a coward and a wimp. Here he will tear his ass off the bed, but not just like that, but for the Great Teacher to teach him the Invincible Technique, and then!
      This pitiful delirium could not have been born by warriors, among warriors, for warriors. There was nothing. The scribes were in search of a rice bun. There were fraudulent samurai in need of exaltation of their "exploits". There were hired killers! And those very "technicians" were not there. Well, it wasn't! They don't exist at all ...
  4. Coboklo
    Coboklo 14 August 2015 11: 51
    The article is good, informative. In Japan, half of its existence was a civil war. And in a civil war, all the tricks are good.
  5. DP5A
    DP5A 14 August 2015 12: 44
    This is true - neither in China nor in Japan (to a lesser extent) historians do not question what enhances the country's fame. Especially in China, any fairy tale is considered reliable evidence. Kurosawa's films are true, because at that time they still remembered how everything really was. It’s impossible to watch contemporary Japanese historical films - golimaya propaganda and self-painting. This is in particular contrast with our current propaganda, where Russians are portrayed as drunkards and fools, at least until very recently.
  6. Denimax
    Denimax 14 August 2015 12: 53
    Ninja Darts. What in the photo is like a craft. And so it is clear that it has no combat effectiveness. So also the blacksmith soared with a facet and giving a lively form. The plumage of the brush for such a massive projectile stabilization during the throw will not, will rotate like a knife. Although the aircraft of course stabilizes.
  7. igordok
    igordok 14 August 2015 15: 31
    The European "garlic" is more correct. A sharp thorn always looks up.

    A Japanese in good shoes and you will not notice what has come.
    1. Oberon812
      Oberon812 14 August 2015 16: 46
      Also interested in this form. So far, the only thing that came to mind was that in Japan, the main footwear was woven sandals, which clearly did not carry the concept of "good shoes". Well, or geta, in which, on the contrary, a disc from a circular saw embedded upright can be overlooked, and not like some garlic. The holes in the thorns, again ... Why?
      1. Mikhail3
        Mikhail3 16 August 2015 14: 52
        It’s not garlic. It is completely safe for a horse, a person must be very unlucky ... This is most likely a real inventory of real ninjas. If you tie this clumsy, threading a string into the hole, it is good to dismiss homeless people in the garbage with such a contraption. Who wants to be hit by such a thorn? It is not fatal, it is unlikely to even disable it, but it will really hurt, so it is better to leave the madman with his piece of iron alone, even if he continues to pose as a hyper-spy with a super task. It perfectly characterizes both the real level of the ninja and the level of their opponents ...
      2. Colonellee
        Colonellee 23 August 2015 01: 03
        The holes are most likely for use as a "cat", a couple of ropes, a couple of cats and it is quite possible to climb the castle wall. Castle walls in most Japanese fortresses are low, with a slight slope. Some can be climbed without any cats.
  8. Alexey Antonov
    Alexey Antonov 14 November 2017 20: 40
    I was afraid to go to the toilet after learning the following story:
    ... Ukifu-ne Dzinnay, who was a dwarf, a little over three shaku (about one meter) tall, but quite physically developed, penetrated the enemy fortress and settled in ambush. For many years, he was preparing to carry out all sorts of delicate missions, sitting for a long time in a cauldron with liquid clay. Having made his way to the castle, Dzinnay comfortably settled in a princely restroom (cesspool) with a spear and a breathing tube. When in the morning the prince appeared to satisfy his natural needs and squatted over a round hole in the floor, Dzinnay, emerging from his hiding place, pierced the sovereign daimyo with a spear to the very throat. The guard, who had run to the noise of the noise, did not find anyone, for Dzinnay, having done his work, sank to the bottom. After some time, getting out of the castle and thoroughly washing himself, he already described his adventures to the contented Oda Nobunaga.