The transcript below is from the video “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ninjas” by Alltime10s.

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A ninja, Japanese pronunciation: shinobi was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of a ninja included espionage, deception, and surprise attacks. Their covert methods of waging irregular warfare were deemed dishonorable and beneath the honor of the samurai. Though shinobi proper, as specially trained spies and mercenaries, appeared in the 15th century during the Sengoku period, antecedents may have existed as early as the 12th century.

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In the unrest of the Sengoku period, mercenaries and spies for hire became active in Iga Province and the adjacent area around the village of Kōga, and it is from these areas that much of the knowledge regarding the ninja is drawn. Following the unification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century, the ninja faded into obscurity. A number of shinobi manuals, often based on Chinese military philosophy, were written in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably the Bansenshukai (1676).

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By the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868), shinobi had become a topic of popular imagination and mystery in Japan. Ninjas figured prominently in legend and folklore, where they were associated with legendary abilities such as invisibility, walking on water and control over natural elements. As a consequence, their perception in popular culture is based more on such legends and folklore than on the covert actors of the Sengoku period.

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The legendary assassins of Japan. This won’t settle if they’re better than Pirates, but you could still find out 10 things you didn’t know about ninjas by watching.

Number 10

Ninjas used kuji-kiri: magical signs with their fingers. By fixing enemies with a hypnotic stare and performing incantations, ninjas could create confusion to distract from their escape.

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Number 9

In the 17th century, the Shogun Tokugawa banned Ninjutsu or even the mention of it… on penalty of death. This put a seal of secrecy on the art of the ninja.

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Number 8

There is disagreement over what ninjas are believed to have worn. Some say that black clothing would have attracted attention at night and so instead a dark navy blue was used.

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Number 7

Ninjas may actually have been able to walk on water. They used specially designed ‘water shoes’ to remain standing and afloat on bodies of water.

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Number 6

Ninjas would often wear a chain-mail shirt: Kusari Katabira. As it was under their clothing, it could appear that a sword cut didn’t affect them.

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Number 5

East Timor is actually at war with ninjas, blaming them for a spate of murders. Some say this a political gambit, but some East Timorese leave wards against ninjas on their houses.

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Number 4

Unlike Samurai, ninjas would have had day jobs as they were normally from the peasant class. They would sometimes use their day job as a peddler or farmer to spy.

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Number 3

Ninja swords had large guards on them which could be used as a footstep for climbing. The sheaths could also contain powders to blind a foe when the sword was drawn.

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Number 2

Ninjas had seven basic disguises: The priest, the mountain ascetic, the merchant, the bard, the entertainer and the commoner. Each was designed to offer a different role in espionage.

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Number 1

Ninjas were known to dislocate their jaws or commit suicide to avoid revealing information when captured. They would also slash their faces with knives to prevent visual identification.




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