Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Ninja of Ancient Japan

The Ninja of Ancient Japan - Lists the origins of the ninja, their weapons, history, and famous ninja. Please note the author of this has repeatedly misspelled ancient. I have taken the liberty of correcting it here.

It is of interest that President Clinton spoke about ninjas. He said, "It would scare the shit out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters in to the middle of their camp. It would get us an enormous deterrence and show those guys we're not afraid."

I am not sure how al Qaeda feels about ninjas, but I know ninjas are certainly big in popular culture today.

From the site:

Of Japan before the fifth century little is known. It was then in the 400s that Chinese scholars were invited over and began to instruct the Japanese in writing and Chinese styles of art and architecture as well as Chinese methods of war. Between the 5th and 8th centuries Japanese culture as we know it today began to develop. The last development came between the 8th and 10th centuries when Japanese warriors who since the 500s wore armour and carried weaponry that were similar to those of Chinese and Korean soldiers, began to develop their own distinctive military ware and code of ethics to become what was to be one of the most ferocious warrior classes of medieval times. The samurai.

By the early medieval period Japan was divided up among many warlords known as Daimyo. Each daimyo ruled over huge armies of his own samurai, all of whom obeyed their lord with the upmost loyalty. According to the Japanese military code of honour known as Bushido (which means ‘the way of the warrior’), each samurai was expected to be ever loyal to his master and to his companions without question. He was to hold his life and even the life of his family in contempt. he would if ordered fight to the death and even take his own life or again if ordered even kill his own wife and children with out hesitation. (One story is told of a samurai who learning that his lord’s son was in danger placed his own son into the hands of his lord’s enemies, saving his lord’s son but delivering his own to certain death.). A samurai was expected to follow his own master’s orders even if they were morally wrong. Even if, according to the 18th century military philosopher, Yamamoto Jucho, it meant following his master to hell itself.

But the code of Bushido was also was a code of respect and fairplay, if only towards samurai. No samurai was suppost to kill another in cold blood and many samurai were reluctant to engage in various aspects of warfare which they regarded as cowardice even if it meant disobeying their lord. Such areas of warfare such as spying and assassination and other forms of covert warfare were regarded as distasteful to many samurai. So many daimyo began to look elsewhere for their spies and assassins.

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