Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ninja.

Some of the ninja from my collection, the rest (40-50 I think) are in black and I will take pictures of them at a later date, always considered this one of my favourite parts of the samurai warfare period.

 A ninja (忍者?) or shinobi (忍び?) was a covert agent or mercenary of feudal Japan specializing in unorthodox arts of war. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations. The ninja, using covert methods of waging war, were contrasted with the samurai, who had strict rules about honour and combat. In his Buke Myōmokushō, military historian Hanawa Hokinoichi writes of the ninja:
They travelled in disguise to other territories to judge the situation of the enemy; they would inveigle their way into the midst of the enemy to discover gaps, and enter enemy castles to set them on fire, and carried out assassinations, arriving in secret.
The origin of the ninja is obscure and difficult to determine, but can be surmised to be around the 14th century. However, the antecedents to the Ninja may have existed as early as the Heian and early Kamakura eras. Few written records exist to detail the activities of the ninja. The word shinobi did not exist to describe a ninja-like agent until the 15th century, and it is unlikely that spies and mercenaries prior to this time were seen as a specialized group. In the unrest of the Sengoku period (15th - 17th centuries), mercenaries and spies for hire arose out of the Iga and Kōga regions of Japan, and it is from these clans that much of later knowledge regarding the ninja is inferred. Following the unification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate, the ninja descended again into obscurity. However, in the 17th and 18th centuries, manuals such as the Bansenshukai (1676) — often centered on Chinese military philosophy — appeared in significant numbers. These writings revealed an assortment of philosophies, religious beliefs, their application in warfare, as well as the espionage techniques that form the basis of the ninja's art. The word ninjutsu would later come to describe a wide variety of practices related to the ninja.
The mysterious nature of the ninja has long captured popular imagination in Japan, and later the rest of the world. Ninjas figure prominently in folklore and legend, and as a result it is often difficult to separate historical fact from myth. Some legendary abilities include invisibilitywalking on water, and control over natural elements. The ninja is also prevalent in popular culture, appearing in many forms of entertainment media.
Iga and Koga Clans
The Iga and Kōga clans have come to describe families living in the province of Iga (modern Mie Prefecture) and the adjacent region of Kōka (later written as Kōga), named after a village in what is now Shiga Prefecture. From these regions, villages devoted to the training of ninjas first appeared. The remoteness and inaccessibility of the surrounding mountains may have had a role in the ninja's secretive development. Historical documents regarding the ninja's origins in these mountainous regions are considered generally correct. The chronicle Go Kagami Furoku writes, of the two clans' origins:
"There was a retainer of the family of Kawai Aki-no-kami of Iga, of pre-eminent skill in shinobi, and consequently for generations the name of people from Iga became established. Another tradition grew in Kōga".
Likewise, a supplement to the Nochi Kagami, a record of the Ashikaga shogunate, confirms the same Iga origin:
"Inside the camp at Magari of the Shogun [Ashikaga] Yoshihisa there were shinobi whose names were famous throughout the land. When Yoshihisa attacked Rokkaku Takayori, the family of Kawai Aki-no-kami of Iga, who served him at Magari, earned considerable merit as shinobi in front of the great army of the Shogun. Since then successive generations of Iga men have been admired. This is the origin of the fame of the men of Iga."
A distinction is to be made between the ninja from these areas, and commoners or samurai hired as spies or mercenaries. Unlike their counterparts, the Iga and Kōga clans produced professional ninja, specifically trained for their roles. These professional ninja were actively hired by daimyos between 1485 and 1581, until Oda Nobunaga invaded Iga province and wiped out the organized clans. Survivors were forced to flee, some to the mountains of Kii, but others arrived before Tokugawa Ieyasu, where they were well treated. Some former Iga clan members, including Hattori Hanzō, would later serve as Tokugawa's bodyguards.
Following the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, Tokugawa employed a group of eighty Kōga ninja, led by Tomo Sukesada. They were tasked to raid an outpost of the Imagawa clan. The account of this assault is given in the Mikawa Go Fudoki, where it was written that Kōga ninja infiltrated the castle, set fire to its towers, and killed the castellan along with two hundred of the garrison. The Kōga ninjas are said to have played a role in the later Battle of Sekigahara (1600), where several hundred Kōga assisted soldiers under Torii Mototada in the defence of Fushimi Castle. After Tokugawa's victory at Sekigahara, the Iga acted as guards for the inner compounds of Edo Castle, while the Kōga acted as a police force and assisted in guarding the outer gate. In 1614, the initial "winter campaign" at the Siege of Osaka saw the ninja in use once again. Miura Yoemon, a ninja in Tokugawa's service, recruited shinobi from the Iga region, and sent ten ninjas into Osaka Castle in an effort to foster antagonism between enemy commanders. During the later "summer campaign", these hired ninjas fought alongside regular troops at the Battle of Tennōji.













87 comments:

  1. Those who make the miniature of sum rye and play a game are not in Japan.
    An overseas wargamer is wonderful.
    I would also like to challenge in when.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great models.
    But where are the Ninja Turtles?

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Oli: Don't have me come over there.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ninjas!!!! where is Michael Dudikoff :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. A well painted bunch of figures. Nice scenery, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. They look good...but there´s the problem...ninja are not supposed to be seen or heard :-D They will have to go back to Ninja school :-D
    Cheers
    paul

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great stuff. I used to live in Shiga Prefecture and went to Koga (I think that was the correct name if I remember correctly). I was able to visit some kind of a museum which was originally a training house for Ninjas. The building was full of tricks, secret doors, traps...it was fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Would love to welcome you here Francis, but only with the Turtles. I have a friend for them here: A guinea pig Ninja.
    http://www.shop.battlefield-berlin.de/img_big/04153695820b1394b0c5f17604daf26c.jpg

    (pic for reference, mine is still unpainted)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Damn I meant Samurai and not Ninja.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Again, very nice mini's and I just love the buildings!

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great info, might copy/paste it into my own blog, lol.

    You can visit my blog here.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Excellent figures and buildings. and a very good read too.

    ReplyDelete
  14. these are really well painted, i never had the patience!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Good read, have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love reading historical facts about peoples often romanticized by modern media, like the ninja. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Have you read James Clavell's Shogun?? It isn't ninja heavy but there is a good assassination attempt in the middle. As a novel it is a brilliant look at feudal Japan and a fine read in the process. It is 1000+ pages long and if you have the time and inclination I highly recommend it!
    It was made into a mini-series with Richard Chamberlain who was hideously mis-cast which made the whole thing bomb unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Igamono! Where's Itto Ogami when you need him?

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Brent: One of the few books I read more than once, I even own the slightly dodgy Shogun on DVD.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great stuff - nice work on the blacks/greys

    ReplyDelete
  22. They loo pretty damn good Fran. Once again I have to say that's some scenery set-up you have there as well.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great read, I usually don't stick around for long blog posts, but this was interesting with some great figs at the end.

    Are those Dixon ninjas or Perry? I went on a crusade about a month ago to find some decent ninja figs and Only the Perries have any pictures with the figures, a very frustrating experience for an internet shopper.

    Keep the pics coming.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think they're Dixon because I have Perry, Old Glory and Citadel ninja aswell.

    ReplyDelete
  25. These have got to be some of your best figures yet, amazing work man ;D

    ReplyDelete
  26. as always, loved the story and the figurines!

    ReplyDelete
  27. no one stands a chance against those ninjas!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Very nice! Do you have any komuso in your collection?

    ReplyDelete
  29. There's energy in those sculpts, but the painting adds a lot of dynamism too - very interesting effect.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Very nice. Figs dominated by a single color are the toughest, and you pulled these off expertly.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Ok, during this entire post, I have had the askaninja.com theme song stuck in my head.

    Great work on the minjas though (mini ninjas)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Ha ha!! Yeah I've read it several times over the years!! Glad we have something in common reading wise since Charles Dickens isn't quite your thing!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I like to practice Ninja skills on cats whenever I can; they are really good at it if they aren't sleeping.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Excellent article my friend. A good balance of information and images holds a reader's attention.

    I love that compound and your paint work.

    Is it my imagination, or are you becoming as verbose as I am. :^]

    Cheers

    Will

    ReplyDelete
  35. Ninja should be easier to paint.. all dark grey and black ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. They aren't very good ninjas. I can totally see them.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I like the little grass at the bottom of them. Nice touch.

    Hahaha, on not having your posts touch Ray's.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I was a wanna be ninja when I was younger. somehow I received a "moon" throwing star that I bought for $5. I kept it in a plastic bad buried underneath a rock. took turns w/ my brothers throwing it into the neighbor's siding.

    terrible kids we were.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Sure, this is a great lesson about what a ninja is, but I want to learn HOW to be a ninja. Maybe next time?

    ReplyDelete
  40. Observe the cats, grasshoppa.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Ninjas are so kewl. As long they aren't out to kill me, that is. hehe

    ReplyDelete
  42. clearly not ninjas, because i can see them. try again

    ReplyDelete
  43. I couldn't get high at your place. If I get a bad hit, I would hallucinate and think those damn ninjas where out to get my ass!

    ReplyDelete
  44. your pictures remind me of a good and funny video on Youtube: algorythm march with ninja. Try it ^^

    ReplyDelete
  45. They look like some Nija dancing troop doing a gig?

    ReplyDelete
  46. I always considered the Samurai as a spiritual warrior with a high moral code, That is why the Ninja would kill off the Samurai because a Ninja is treacherous and will use any means necessary to accomplish his task.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Very nice. Good job on the black

    ReplyDelete
  48. Great collection I love Ninja's.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Love them! - you Shuriken paint well! (sorry!- couldnt resist that!)

    ReplyDelete
  50. Great post, love the balance of interesting history lesson with the painted figs as illustration, or conversely, the painted figures as subject and history lesson as context. It works regardless of your primary interest here.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I just can't get over the detailing. amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  52. whoa where did you find these?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Woah, those are pretty nice. I really like your blog style, followed! :)

    ReplyDelete
  54. Excellent minis and an informative history lesson as well. Time well spent! :)

    ReplyDelete
  55. interesting article, i like the piece who looks like hes kicking something

    ReplyDelete
  56. Excellent stuff Fran. Really like the paintwork. It would have been so easy just to have apinted them black but I like the way you have done your highlighting.

    Good background as well

    ReplyDelete
  57. 70 comments????...how does somebody get 70 comments, amazing how much attention your blog gets...good for you sir, good for you.

    ReplyDelete
  58. These ninjas look like their up to something!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Great looking nInjas Angry. Excellent.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Awesome post and great information.

    ReplyDelete
  61. "These ninjas look like their up to something!"

    Ninjas are always up to something.

    40-50 in your collection? Holy crap. Nice work.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Hey man.
    I gotta say thanks.
    Last couple days I got almost three hundred hits from this blog.
    I still can't find where you linked to my blog around here, but thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  63. The Ninjas look utterly fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
  64. cool, nice to get bite sized bits of information.
    Ninja have always been kinnda cool!

    ReplyDelete
  65. As you can see, I plainly side with pirates, but these little guys do look like formidable foes.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Also my favorite part of ancient Japan.

    ReplyDelete
  67. i gotta say these are some of your best pieces ive ever seen

    ReplyDelete
  68. The only thing better than a ninja is a lot of ninja. Super cool.

    Your feudal Japan stuff fills me with envy.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Nice figures in pyjamas :-D

    Great painted Fran!

    Greetings
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
  70. They are awesome models and great paint jobs. I hate painting black!!

    ReplyDelete
  71. You probably know the but I saw a link for those guys today on LAF:
    http://www.decorsminiatures.fr/

    They've got some pretty nice asian scenery, thought you might like them in case you missed it.

    ReplyDelete