• 2022-12-18

Capability of Ever-changing Appearance

Fully Committing to a Role Some ninjas served as low-ranking warriors, farmers, and sometimes even members of vigilante groups, and when they were engaged in public activities, the ninjas had a camouflage technique called “shichihode,” in which they disguised themselves as monks, peddlers, and street performers. For example, if pretending to be a monk, they wore the scent of incense and chanted sutras. If disguised as a “medicine seller,” they wore the scent of Japanese medicines, and as a draper, they wore the scent of kimono dyes. They also acquired knowledge of products and learned how to behave for each role. What an effort they must have put in! The reasons for going so far to disguise themselves were for these important missions: 1) to […]

  • 2022-12-09

The Visible and the Invisible

The Existence of What you can’t see Although ninjas are known as shadowy figures, they also sometimes disguised themselves as ordinary people to conduct espionage activities — both publicly and covertly. Why is it that ninjas are still internationally known today, even though there are people who engage in intelligence activities, not only in Japan but throughout every era and culture? It may be largely due to the influence of movies and manga, but we will look at this from the context of the uniqueness of the Japanese people in this column. Recent research has revealed that the mission of ancient ninjas was to survive and pass on information. In order to survive, it was clear that having useful information was more advantageous than expending […]

  • 2022-10-30

What The Ninjas Used to Eat

The Source of Ninja’s Power “Hyoro-gan” Eating has always been one of life’s great pleasures . From ancient times, Japan developed a variety of food cultures depending on the region, time, and circumstances. Even today, experiencing  Japanese food is the number one reason for sightseers to visit Japan. So what kind of food was “hyoro-gan,” the famous portable food for ninjas? Ninjas’ basic daily diet consisted of brown rice, barley, wild vegetables, and other foods similar to those of the people of that time, but they also had soybeans, surume (dried squid), carrots, “Takii” (cooked rice that has been further cooked until the water is absorbed), and sesame seeds in order to improve their physical functions. They also carried “hyoro-gan” when they were on duty […]

  • 2022-10-30

The Power of “Listening Well”

It is easier to disclose a secret when speaking voluntarily than when asked about it The basic mission of ninjas is to gather information. Therefore, the most important skill for a ninja was the ability to communicate with people. The phrase, “It is easier to disclose a secret when speaking voluntarily than when asked about it,” means that people tend to provide far more information when they speak on their own accord rather than when they are asked to answer specific questions. The skill of the ninja to gather secrets lay within their ability to get people talking. They did this in several ways. First, it is essential to have a natural greeting to be a good listener. It may seem surprising that a ninja […]

  • 2022-10-04

The Two Meanings of “Respect for Harmony”

The NINJA FOREST Interpretation of “Harmony is to be Valued.”   The phrase “Harmony is to be valued.” is written in Article 1 of the Seventeen-Article of the Constitution in the Chronicles of Japan. It has also become a proverb that expresses a spirituality that is essential to the Japanese. However, there are two main interpretations of this phrase. In this column, we will look at this phrase from both sides. The first interpretation emphasizes the importance of maintaining harmony in a situation, and that individual patience is necessary to achieve harmony. The other interpretation is that it is necessary to have a process which allows each of us to put forth our ideas and discuss them sufficiently in order to maintain harmony. I would […]

  • 2022-09-28

Strategy is the Best Way to Minimize Warfare

“A superior Ninja (Jyonin) is a man with no sound, no smell, no praise for his wisdom, no fame for his valor, whose deeds are like the creation of heaven and earth. (Bansenshukai)” A Ninja’s mission was primarily about gaining useful information to avoid unnecessary battles. Another duty was to increase the odds of survival, such as stealthily saving the lives of warlords and other influential or reducing the scale of warfare. Their work helped to prevent the loss of troops and provisions and minimized the chaos in the battlefield during times of prolonged warfare.   Sun Tzu said, “One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the best of goodness.” (Meaning, even if you fight a hundred times and win a hundred times, […]

  • 2022-09-14

The Art of Interchanging Fiction and Reality

No hesitation, be confident. The fiction-reality conversion technique is a tactic that skillfully interchanges fiction and reality (bluffing and honesty) to gain an advantage in a confrontation or diplomatic situation. It’s a strategy that takes advantage of an individual’s psychology, such as making something appear to be there when it is not or acting confidently even when feeling unsure. There are two sides to every coin. No matter how perfect, excellent, or strong an opponent may appear to be, there is always a weakness hiding under the surface. With careful observation, you will be able to spot and exploit a rival’s emotional weak points to gain control of the situation. Ninjas used this technique of shifting fiction and reality, such as acting confident even if […]

  • 2021-08-09
  • 2022-12-22

Win without fighting

What you want to fight for and what you want to get out of it The best way to fight, as described in the Art of War by Sun Tzu, was to “win without fighting.” The one who wins may be good at the time, but he will surely suffer losses in repeated battles, such as losing his own soldiers, running out of food, and destroying the land. On the other hand, the loser will be frustrated and look for an opportunity to take revenge, and in any case, in the long run, battles involve sacrifices on both sides and a negative chain of events. To avoid this, it is necessary to have useful information to formulate efficient strategies, which is why Japan has created […]