A video has been circulating the internet featuring a street fight somewhere in China according to the title. In it, the two combatants clearly appear to be utilizing Kung Fu techniques, but…uh well, see for yourself.
Each of the tools that ninjas were actually using back at the time had unique features and often served a multiple purposes. That was because ninjas had to not only combat enemies but also take on various other missions such as infiltrating enemy territories and collecting information. So they carried special tools suitable for the purposes of various missions. Here we have focused on such practical tools, particularly on the weapons of ninjas.
1. Shuriken [手裏剣]
Shuriken or throwing stars is almost synonymous with ninja. From windmill types to stick types, they were varied in shape. Ninjas sometimes poisoned the tips of the blades to make this weapon more deadly.
[Kashaken (火車剣): a variation of shuriken made explosive with gun powder]
2. Shinobigatana (Ninja Sword) [忍刀]
Ninjas were using their own kind of swords. Unlike longer and more curved samurai swords, ninja swords were straight and relatively short. They featured a large tsuba (hand guard) and ninjas sometimes stood their swords against the wall and used the tsuba part as a step when going over the wall. A string was attached to the scabbard so the sword could be collected from above the wall. These swords were also matte finished so they would not reflect light in the darkness.
3. Kunai (Dagger) [くない]
This double bladed tool was used not only as a weapon but also as a shovel, knife and a step ladder for wall climbing. It is versatile as the modern-day “survival knife”. When used as a throwing knife, it was collected with a string attached to it.
4. Makibishi (Caltrop) [撒菱]
Makibishi was scattered on the ground to wound and stop pursuers. Nails of a caltrop are arranged so one of its sharp nails always points upward however you throw it. It is believed that the plant seeds of water caltrops had been used originally for the same purpose.
5. Tekko-Kagi (Claw Dagger) [手甲鉤]
Tekko-kagi is worn on the hands to scratch enemy with its nails. It can also be used defensively against sword attacks and for various other purposes such as digging a hole in the ground and driving the nails into the wall when climbing.
6. Kusarigama (Sickle and Chain) [鎖鎌]
Kusarigama is a chained sickle with a balancing weight on the other end. Without the chain, it can be disguised as an ordinary farming tool. The weight part can be thrown at the enemy while the chain can be used to suppress the enemy before attacking with the sickle. But it requires a very high skill to use this weapon at will.
7. Fukiya (Blow Dart) [吹き矢]
Ninjas were using blow darts poisoned on the tips to assassin enemies remotely. The blowpipes were often disguised as a flute and carried along.
8. Metsubushi (Eye Blinder) [目潰し]
An easily broken bag or hollowed-out egg filled with pepper or chalk powder was thrown at enemies. It was used as an offensive weapon for its eye blinding effect, as well as to distract enemies when running away from them.
9. Shikomizue (Prepared Cane) [仕込み杖]
A sword blade plunges out suddenly from a cane which would never be suspected as a weapon. A ninja disguised as an old man could carry this weapon without alarming anyone.
10. Kakushi (Finger Brass Knuckles) [角指]
This is a kind of brass knuckles for ninjas. But unlike brass knuckles, ninjas wore kakushi with the sharp nails on the palm side and grab the arm or neck of an enemy tightly from behind to deliver a lethal attack. This weapon was perfect for assassination because it was compact to carry.
11. Toribiho (Flame Gun) [捕火方]
This weapon was used to project flames by igniting gunpowder and iron sand filled in the barrel. The technology at the time did not allow flames to reach very far, but it must have been stunning enough for enemies.
12. Tetsumari (Iron Ball) [鉄毬]
Tetsumari is a round weapon with spikes sticking out in all directions. When thrown at enemies, it could deliver a more lethal attack than shuriken due to its penetrative power. But the relatively large size was not ideal for carrying.
13. Nekote (Claw Dagger) [猫手]
This weapon was used by kunoichis, female ninjas. Kunoichis put them on their hands to scratch enemies with the sharp nails. The name “nekote,” literally meaning “cat hand,” comes from its shape like cat’s claws.
14. Shinobi Kumade [忍び熊手]
Shinobi Kumade is a kind of iron rake with collapsible pipe sections making grips. The string threaded through the pipes can be pulled tight to make a long spear-like weapon while loosening it will make this weapon like a nunchaku.
RocketNews 24 (by Kay):
Who hasn’t been fascinated by the ninja and their legendary skills? Well, this special ninja exhibit should certainly help you learn more about their mysterious world!
We all love ninjas, don’t we? But how much do we really know about them? Although much about these “secret agents” of the feudal era remain a mystery, the academic world has been busy trying to uncover as much fact as possible about them. Happily for ninja fans, the public will get to share in some of the insights that researchers have gained into the world of the shinobi (literally “stealth”), as ninja are sometimes called.
The exhibit is based on scientific research on the ninja led by Mie University, and the exhibit hall has three distinct areas, each representing the elements of “mind, skill and body” (shin, gi, tai), in which the ninja were highly trained.
As you move through the exhibit, you’ll have the opportunity to practice throwing shuriken stars, improve your jumping power and learn secret operative skills, such as memory enhancement techniques and special breathing techniques as well as ways to send secret messages. You’ll also be able to see ancient ninjutsu manuscripts and ninja weapons on display. Now, that certainly sounds like a whole lot of secret agent fun!
THE NINJA exhibit will run from July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon) at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo’s Odaiba area. If you’re going to be in Tokyo during that time, it could be an excellent opportunity for you to get a glimpse into what the true world of the ninja may have been like. We hope you enjoy testing your stealth skills!
July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon)
Venue: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Tokyo-to, Koto-ku, Aomi 2-3-6 (Access information)
Admission: 1,600 yen (about US$14.50) for adults, 1,000 yen (900 yen on Saturdays) for children of grade-school age to 18, and 500 yen for preschoolers years old (*Free admission for children 2 years old and under)
Source: THE NINJA exhibit website
Mashable (by Alex Q. Arbuckle):
The military-nobility caste known as samurai — roughly meaning “those who serve” — emerged in medieval Japan as provincial warriors, and rose to control the country in the 12th century.
As the enforcement arm of the ruling shogunate, the samurai were elevated to a position of privilege. They followed a code of honor called bushido, informed by Confucianism and Zen Buddhism. Bushido emphasized martial fearlessness, discipline and loyalty, as well as general kindness.
These photos, made in the years after Japan finally opened its ports to international trade, capture samurai in their final days. With the 1868 Meiji Restoration and the end of feudalism, carrying swords was prohibited to all but the new national armed forces.
The samurai class was dissolved, but bushido survived as the national moral code of the new Japan.
Two samurai in firefighter dress.
RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):
Japan is looking for a few good shinobi.
If you’re feeling sad because you weren’t chosen as one of the two samurai being recruited in Aichi Prefecture this month, cheer up! It turns out there’s now another opportunity to become a professional sword-wielding warrior, as Aichi’s tourism board is now looking to employ six new ninja.
Similar to Aichi’s samurai-themed Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad, which also operates under the name Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas, is a Nagoya-based group that makes live appearances to promote tourism to the Aichi area and Japan in general to both domestic and overseas travelers. As a ninja, your work tasks will include putting on awesome martial arts stage shows and instructing kids in proper shuriken throwing technique.
At 180,000 yen a month, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad starting salary is identical to that of the Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade. The Ninja Squad also looks to be an equal opportunity employer. Not only does the group include kunoichi (female ninja)…
…the applications seem to be open to non-Japanese would-be ninja as well, as evidenced by the fact that the Ninja Squad has made its recruitment information available in English as well.
A high degree of athleticism and acrobatic talent are of course prerequisites for the job, as are these seemingly contradictory, yet in this case totally justified, personality traits:
● A desire to be in the spotlight, even though you’re a stealthy ninja
● A fondness for talking with others, even though you’re wearing a mask and hood
● A kind heart, even though you’re carrying a sword
If you meet all those criteria, and you think you’d look good in black, applications can be found here, and will be accepted until March 22.
Check out a new image of the Olivia Munn Psylocke and read on for the actress’ thoughts on getting the character right
ComingSoon.net (by Silas Lesnick):
This summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse is set to mark the first major appearance of the mutant known as Psylocke on the big screen. As you can see from a newly-released image, 20th Century Fox is committed to making the Olivia Munn Psylocke true to the character in the comic book and, in a new interview with CNET, the actress explains why she’s proud of her take on the psionic mutant.
“I’ve loved Psylocke for so long,” Munn tells the outlet. “She’s a really, really strong badass female character in this comic book world where a lot of times the women don’t get to be strong and badass. You see a lot of superheroes [who] don’t always want to kill, and they’ll avoid it if they can. She’s never had a problem killing, and I like that she was the bad guy that had no problem being the bad guy. She’s telekinetic and telepathic so she can read your mind. She can create anything with her mind. To win any, she can just create a mountain and have it fall down on you, but she chooses to create a sword so she can kill up close and personal. I always thought that was really cool and badass.”
Like quite a few Marvel mutants, Psylocke’s comic book history is a bit strange. Elizabeth Braddock first appeared in 1976’s “Captain Britain” #8 as the twin sister of the UK book’s title hero. It wasn’t until a decade later in the pages of “New Mutants Annual” #2 that Braddock, a telepath, took over the body and abilities of a Japanese ninja, Kwannon, becoming the X-Men member known as Psylocke.
Whether Olivia Munn’s Pyslocke will have such a convoluted origin story remains to be seen.
Said to be the conclusion of a trilogy started with X-Men: First Class and continued with X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Bryan Singer-directed X-Men: Apocalypse is set for release on May 27, 2016.
David Bowie, who died this week, was a well-known Japanophile, adopting many elements of Japanese culture into his stage performances.
“He was someone who knew how to express himself both with music and with fashion,” Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto told the BBC.
“Someone like that may not be so rare these days, but he was one of the pioneers to do both.”
Mr Yamamoto, the creative force behind some of Bowie’s most iconic stage outfits, first got to know Bowie in the 1970s, when the singer was often visiting Japan, and trying to break into the US market.
“I don’t know why he was so attracted to things Japanese, but perhaps it wasn’t so much Japan or Japanese-ness itself. He knew when he looked good in something.
“When you wear something and you look really good… you feel confident and good about yourself. I think my designs and costumes had that effect on him.”
Helene Thian, a fashion historian and lifelong fan who has written extensively about Bowie, agreed. She said Bowie had often been noted as having had “this beautiful androgynous face and body, which suited Kansai Yamamoto’s unisex style”.
Bowie’s Japanese style had already been developing through his interest in Japanese theatre.
In the mid-1960s, he studied dance with Lindsay Kemp, a British performance and mime artist who was heavily influenced by the traditional kabuki style, with its exaggerated gestures, elaborate costumes, striking make-up, and “onnagata” actors – men playing female roles.
Bowie was a natural “shapeshifter“, says Ms Thian, and his training with Kemp and onnagata style helped him as he explored ideas of masculinity, exoticism and alienation.
He even learned from famed onnagata Tamasaburo Bando how to apply traditional kabuki make-up – its bold highlighted features on a white background are evident in the lightning bolt across the Ziggy face.
“It wasn’t trying to be literal interpretation” of onnagata, said Ms Thian, “but rather inspired by its gender-bending androgyny. That’s what makes it so powerful, it’s more evocative.”
‘Quick change’ master
Mr Yamamoto said he wasn’t sure why he and Bowie had such an affinity, but that “something resonated between us, something that went beyond nationalities, beyond gender“.
Through his style and performances, he said, Bowie “broke one sexual taboo after another“.
“What he did in terms of bridging the male-female gap continues to this day,” he said, including in the increasing acceptance of gay relationships in Japan.
Among his most famous outfits for Bowie was Space Samurai, a black, red and blue outfit adapting the hakama, a type of loose trousers which samurais wore and which are still worn by martial arts practitioners.
He also sometimes wore a kimono-inspired cape with traditional Japanese characters on it which spell out his name phonetically, but also translate to “fiery vomiting and venting in a menacing manner“.
Ms Thian says Bowie was also “absolutely the first” Western artist to employ the hayagawari – literally “quick change” – technique from kabuki, says Ms Thian, with unseen stagehands ripping off the dramatic cape on stage to reveal another outfit.
‘A very beautiful man’
It wasn’t just his appearance – references to Japan are scattered through Bowie’s music – his 1977 album Heroes even features the track Moss Garden on which he plays a Japanese koto, a kind of zither.
These days, an artist in Bowie’s position might be accused of cultural appropriation – stealing another culture for his own purposes – but Ms Thian says it was never seen that way in Japan.
“Bowie was born to be the ultimate diplomat and artiste,” she says.
“He took his creativity and fused it with his impulses to meld East and West and come up with a healing of the world in this post-war period.”
This was “a homage to Japanese culture and the Japanese loved it“, she said, as Bowie challenged the tendency of Western fashion at the time to lump all Asian styles together as “Orientalism“.
Indeed, Japan embraced Bowie back, and he remains an icon there, with his glam rock style influencing generations of bands and musicians.
Renowned rock guitarist Hotei Tomayasu, best known outside Japan for composing the theme for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, told the BBC: “[Bowie] is the one who truly changed my life. My eternal hero and inspiration.”
Bowie is also known in Japan for his role as Maj Jack Celliers in the 1983 iconic film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, directed by the renowned Nagisa Oshima.
The film, set during World War Two in a Japanese camp for prisoners, pits Bowie’s character and another soldier against two Japanese officers, one of whom is played by the famous musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.
On Twitter, Sakamoto’s ex-wife Akiko Yano recalled how Bowie carried their young daughter – Miu – on his shoulders when the family visited the Roppongi neighborhood in Tokyo with Bowie in the 1980s.
Miu Sakamoto tweeted this picture of herself as a little girl shaking hands with the singer, saying she vaguely recalled meeting “a very beautiful man“.
“(He is) no more. A world in which David is not living still feels totally unreal.“