14 Ninja weapons that were actually in use

14 Super Kakkoii Ninja Weapons That Were Actually in Use

 Goin’ Japanesque:

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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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]

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Toribiho on the right

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]

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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]

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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]

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The long tool seen in the left lower part of the photo is Shinobi Kumade

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.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s awesome samurai armor exhibition

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RocketNews 24:

At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also known by the acronym LACMA, the museum is right in the middle of its exhibition titled Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection.

Swiss transplant and Texas real estate mogul Gabriel has amassed a staggering array of samurai protective gear, a portion of which is currently on loan to the museum located adjacent to Hancock Park on Wilshire Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles.

▼ Note the tengu (raven) motif of the face plate for the left set of armor.

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▼ Helmet ornamentation, from animal-like to religious to just plain massive.

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More than 140 pieces including lamellar breastplates, helms, face guards, and barding are on display. The exhibit is centered on armor worn by high-ranking samurai and daimyo, the regional warlords who ruled fiefs during Japan’s feudal era.

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The pieces vary in age from 14th to 19th century examples, and this broad range is reflected in changes made to armor design as the samurai adapted to the changing nature of battle. During the period in question, military engagements evolved from horseback archery to clashes of spear and sword-wielding infantry, and finally musket volleys when firearms became prevalent after contact with more technologically advanced European nations.

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The exhibition is scheduled run until February 1, so clear out your calendar quickly if you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see these awesome remnants of Japanese history.

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Museum information
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Address: 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Website
Samurai: Japanese Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection website

Historical Japanese swords turn into battle-hardened Blade Boys in new mobile game

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RocketNews 24:

These days, one of the quickest and most popular methods for stocking a video game with a cast of attractive anime-style characters is to pick a class of item and anthropomorphize the heck out of it. There’s currently no hotter mobile game than Kantai Collection, in which players command a fleet of pretty girls who’re all modeled after World War II-era Japanese warships. If naval history isn’t your thing, you can also find titles featuring comely cars and moe mushrooms.

There’s a new entry in the subgenre though, and judging from its all-pretty boy roster of characters, it’s been designed with female otaku gamers in mind. As such, it’s no surprise that the men of Touken Ranbu are all based on something long and hard…plus sharp, as they’re all anthropomorphized swords.

Smartphone game publisher DNN released Touken Ranbu, or Violent Blade Dance, on January 14. With such a warlike title and development being handled by Nitro Plus, the same unit behind busty anime mascot Super Sonico, you might expect Touken Ranbu to be a testosterone-dripping smorgasbord of boobs and swordfights, but the truth is very different.

In recent years, there’s been a surge of interest in historical samurai among young Japanese women, who find themselves drawn to their old-school stoicism and gallantry. More than anyone else, it’s for that demographic that Touken Ranbu’s cast of dudes with smooth facial features and elaborate hairdos was crafted.

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The game’s plot actually starts in 2205, when historical revisionists stage a literal attack on the past in order to alter Japan’s history. The player steps into the role of the saniwa, an entity with the power to awaken the souls of inanimate objects and imbue them with fighting strength. As such, it’s your job to transform the swords of Japan’s feudal era into an army of Touken Danshi, or Blade Boys.

▼ Mikatzuki Munechika, the Heian Era sword (left) and Blade Boy (right)

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Early reviews describe the game as easy to pick up and play, with a streamlined system for equipping characters with special items and simple combat system. While the player assembles squads of up to six members and issues commands to advance or retreat in battle, the Blade Boys will do the rest of their fighting more or less automatically.

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Female otaku in Japan are generally drawn to male characters with tragic pasts, and Touken Ranbu’s theme gives the creators ample sadness to mine. Since the cast all started as inanimate killing instruments, they’ve seen numerous deaths, oftentimes including those of their owners. A few were even used for seppuku, the samurai act of ritual suicide, and carry the psychological burden of having been party to the act.

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As a result, gamers can expect plenty of scenes in which they try to help the Blade Boys work through their emotional baggage. But while many games would use this as a springboard to a romantic relationship, Touken Ranbu keeps such rumblings of the heart low-key, which should help it appeal to the widest possible female fanbase in Japan.

By never definitively stating who the characters have a crush on, Nitro Plus can simultaneously appeal to the three major groups of pretty boy game fans, the fujoshi(who want to see the guys hook up with other guys), the danjo kapu mono (coming from danjo kappuringu mono, or “heterosexual coupling fans”), and the “dreamers”(who’d like to imagine themselves as the object of the affections of the hot guys on screen).

▼ Mixed in among the 19 sword-based characters announced so far is Otegine, who’s actually a Muromachi Period spear.

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The lack of explicit romantic content means that as long as they can get past the female-oriented character designs, heterosexual male gamers should be able to get some enjoyment out of Touken Ranbu’s story too. Serving as world view director and main writer is Yuri Shibamura, who wrote the script for video game-tuned-anime Gunparade March.

Also contributing to the project is Norimitsu Kaiho, whose previous credits include a handful of Guilty Gear games and episodes of mecha anime TV series Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet.

Regardless of which facet of the game strikes your fancy, Token Ranbu can be downloaded here directly from DMM.

“2D vs. Katana” exhibition shows off recreations of swords from anime and video games in Osaka

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RocketNews 24:

Last year, Tokyo’s Ueno Royal Museum held an exhibition of Japanese swords inspired by the mechanical and character designs of landmark anime Evangelion. As cool as some of the pieces looked, though, you won’t find any scenes in the giant robot franchise where someone actually fights using a katana.

On the other hand, right now the Osaka Museum of History is holding an event that goes even further in bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, by displaying recreations of amazing blades seen in anime, manga, and light novel illustrations.

Running from now until December 23, the 2D vs. Katana exhibition has teamed up master swordsmiths with over a dozen Japanese graphic designers. One of the biggest names involved is Kazuo Koike, whose manga Lone Wolf and Cub was one of the first Japanese comics to build an international fanbase. The sword of the series’ tortured protagonist, Ogami, is one of the pieces on display.

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Another artist likely to be familiar even to a non-Japanese atendees is Yoshitaka Amano. A veteran character designer whose career stretches back to the 1970s, Amano provided designs for TV anime Gatchaman and video game franchise Final Fantasy. Weaponry based off his artwork for the multimedia project Zan is being displayed as part of 2D vs. Katana.

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Despite the event’s name, the pieces aren’t all necessarily derived from traditional Japanese sword designs. For example, the Demon Sword, a product of the imagination of veteran science fiction and creature illustrator Yuji Kaida, would look just as at home in the hands of a knight as a samurai.

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Judging from online reactions, the biggest show-stopper seems to be a recreation of a drawing by Yumeji Kiriko, the manga artist of Le Chevalier D’Eon whose work has also appeared in Sega’s arcade trading card games Sangokushi Taisen and Sengoku Taisen. Since the respective settings of those three titles are 18th century France, China’s Three Kingdoms period, and Japan’s Warring States conflict, it seems like organizers could have played it safe with the sort of practical designs used by actual weapons in those eras. Instead, they decided to go with something a bit more ambitious.

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Yes, there seems to be a bouquet of flowers growing out of that sword’s hilt, and in order to stay faithful to the source material, the swordsmith incorporated it into the piece, as shown in this snapshot from early in the production process.

Likewise, losing the ludicrously long hand guard was not an option.

It’s hard to notice in the original illustration, but the sword is actually constructed of two blades, one nestled inside the other, with two prongs at the tip. Like the flowers and hand guard, this is the sort of flourish that’s not an issue at all when working with a pen and paper, but can be pretty problematic when the tools of your trade are hammers and steel. So how does the final result look?

Pretty awesome.

There’s no question those flowers would get torn off in the opening seconds of a fight, and looking at the handle, we’re not sure there’s actually enough room to wedge your fingers into the gap between it and the hand guard. But while the 2D vs. Katana exhibition allows non-flash photography, the event’s leniency doesn’t extend to letting guests grab the weapon of their choice and duel with each other. Taking that into consideration, you can’t really fault the choice to concede a bit of combat practicality when the payoff is that many extra style points.

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Learning Edo-era blade polishing techniques from a Japanese master

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RocketNews 24:

We recently visited Tokyo Polishing Master Craftsmen Institution in the Asakusa area of Tokyo where they are celebrating their 20th year. The school has seen more than 700 graduates go through the program to become professional sharpeners in their own right.

The president of the school, 83-year-old Kosho Fujiami, is the very definition of a sharpening master, having practiced the craft since he was 5 years old. He learned polishing styles that people have been using since the Edo period when the art form was mainly used by samurai to sharpen their swords.

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Fujiami told us that samurai took great care to learn how to sharpen their swords and keep them polished. Their swords were one of their most important tools and had to be kept in the best of shape. For people now, cooking knives are one of the most important things we use on an everyday basis, he said. So this ancient practice of blade sharpening is still very relevant to the modern world.

There used to be lots of professional blade sharpeners in Tokyo during the Edo period and even in the early Showa era. Now there are hardly any left and this school is one of the few places to learn techniques that have been practiced for over 300 years.

We asked Fujiami about the skills required to polish a blade. “The act itself is very simple. You hold the blade to the sharpening stone at a certain angle and scrape it against the stone…that’s it,” he told us.

But to truly master this skill, Fujiami stressed that you need to practice it over and over again.

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There are three kinds of polishing stones and which one you use depends on the type of blade you want to sharpen. After figuring out which stone to use, you then have to figure out what the original angle of the blade was. Taking that angle into account, you firmly grasp the handle of the blade with your right hand and place the face of the blade onto the polishing stone. Put a lot of pressure onto the blade as you grind it on the stone away from your body, then ease up when you slide it back towards you. Repeat this motion slowly and carefully to gradually polish the blade back to its original sharpness.

▼Some of the polishing stones

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▼Practice blades

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People from all walks of life, from housewives to white-collar workers to students, have gone through the school. The course takes about 300 to 400 hours and most people complete it in under a year.

We met one graduate of the school who is now practicing the skill in Los Angeles. Fujiami told the student that since Japanese cuisine is all the rage around the world, there might be a big demand for blade polishing since many Japanese foods require fine knife work with the sharpest of blades. The graduate opened up a speciality knife shop in L.A. and apparently is doing quite well.

Although courses are only available in Japanese, this school welcomes anyone who wants to learn the art of polishing. Fujiami said he would love to spread this Japanese art to other countries. And from 10 AM to 4 PM on everyday except Mondays, they invite you to come and watch them work their magic. If you’re interested, check out the school’s website and directions:

Tokyo Polishing Master Craftsmen Institution
Address: 3rd Floor 2-29-15 Asakusa bashi, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Less than 5 minutes walk from JR or Toei subway Asakusabashi stations

▼A look at the school from the street

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Check out this link:

Learning Edo-era blade polishing techniques from a Japanese master