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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!
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日本忍者文化 (All About Ninja)

4196 分類 收藏
阿多賓 發佈於 2013 年 11 月 4 日    林雨薇 翻譯    Johnny Tsai 審核
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