by Masaki - Japan Licensed Guide
(60) Reviews


In 1467  a war broke out between feudal lords in Kyoto.

It was the Onin War.

Nobody knew it was the beginning of the “civil war” period, which lasted for 100 years.

The war lasted for ten years.

When it came to an end, the capital was heavily damaged and turned into a lawless zone.

Social order collapsed.

The established political and military system didn’t work.

The authority of the Shogun was disregarded and the shogun became an existence by name.

Wars spread throughout Japan.

In this state of confusion,  feudal lords were desperate to survive.

To protect themselves or to defeat their rival lords, they hired professional spies called ninja .


Ninja's sneaked into rival countries  to gather information,  engage in espionage or sabotage, and sometimes assassinate people.

They disguised themselves as merchants, farmers, monks, or street performers so that they might not be suspected.

On rainy or dark nights, they wore a black costume and sneaked into castles using a special device to carry out their mission.

In many parts of Japan there were various types of ninja.


Today ninja in Iga Ueno district are well known. 

In those days there were many ninja villages in the district.

Each village had its own ninja and dispatched them to feudal lords in various parts of Japan.

Iga ninja were strongly united, independent of feudal lords.

They had a highly-developed network of information.


In the deep mountains of central Japan was a small feudal clan called Sanada, who had their own military spy warriors.

Since ancient times, mountain worship flourished In the mountainous region, 

They dedicated themselves to the mountain deity and  lived a simple life.

For them an environment like this was the ideal place for their hard training.

Ninja techniques developed in the traditions of mountain worship.

Although their territory was small, surrounded by very powerful feudal lords, Sanada  were feared and admired by their rivals for being skillful in battle.

Of course, their ninjas played a very important role in raising the fame of Sanada.

Among them was Kakei Juzo.

He was a head of the Sanada ninja and  served his master, Sanada Yukimura, an ill-fated hero.

His master was against Tokugawa Ieyasu, the highest authority of the time.

In 1600,  Yukimura’s troops defeated Tokugawa's troops in battle, despite Tokugawa's army being ten times larger in size.

However, his allied armies were completely defeated in the battle of Sekigahara.

In the end, Yukimura won the battle and lost the war.

Yukimura was expelled to a remote district, followed by Kakei Juzo.

Decades later, Kakei lost his life in the battle against Tokugawa when his master made a final challenge against Tokugawa.



Iga ninja, who supported the Tokugawa shogun, were promoted when the Tokugawa Era started.

It was a peaceful era free from war, when ninjas were no longer needed.

They lived a peaceful life in Edo, now Tokyo, never to reappear in history.

But their ninja techniques were passed down from generation to generation.

Sanada ninja seemed to have disappeared after the death of Kakei Juzo. 

But Sanada's  ninja techniques have been secretly handed down.

Even today, it is taught  in Nara, 

The ninja school is popular with young and old, male and female ninja fans.

The visitors here learn various Sanada ninja techniques including throwing star darts and Japanese archery, and matchlocks.


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07 Jul 2017


Licensed Guide
(60) Reviews

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