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Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai, and Outlaws Paperback – November 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Fascinating Ninja Facts from Ninja Attack!

1. The masks that we’ve come to associate with ninja are largely a work of fiction, as are the infamous all-black outfits. In reality, ninja wore outfits that let them be as unobtrusive as possible. Most dressed like farmers, both because it worked well as camouflage in a nation of farmers, and because most of them really were farmers.

Ninja Attack

2. In Japanese, the word “ninja” is written with the kanji characters meaning “clandestine” and “person.”

3. Body odor was a significant issue for ninja, as a strong scent could lead to one’s hiding place. They generally avoided highly aromatic foods such as garlic, chives, or onions, and meat, and bathed fastidiously.

Ninja Attack

4. Ninja watched their weight carefully, as one might expect for people who spent inordinate amounts of time hanging from rafters or crouched beneath floorboards. The ideal weight was said to be no greater than a full sack of rice: 132 lbs.

5. Mochizuki Chiyojo remains the only female ninja of whom anything is even vaguely known. She created a squad of female intelligence operatives known as “walking maidens” who criss-crossed the country in the guise of holy women, entertainers, and prostitutes, gathering information for their masters.

6. Although in popular culture ninja are often portrayed as wearing chainmail shirts or hoods, the weight and noise made these useless for the average ninja mission, which relied on stealth and avoiding the enemy.

7. With his eye-patch, rakish good looks, top-notch sword skills--and the ability to stop a sword between the palms of his hands--it’s no wonder that 17th-century ninja rival Yagyu Jubei has been the star of countless comic books, films, and historical dramas. A classic scene early in Akira Kurasawa’s Seven Samurai, in which a talented swordsman is forced to kill a challenger who refuses to admit defeat, is supposedly based on a real-life incident from Jubei’s travels.

Ninja Attack

8. Momochi Tanba, seemingly a middle-aged farmer, was actually an extremely powerful figure in the early 16th century, who personally trained and commanded a vast army of ninja. He was so dedicated to subterfuge, that he split his time among three separate residences, each one with its own wife and family.

9. Upon becoming Shogun in 1716, Tokugawa Yoshimune established Japan’s first true, clandestine intelligence service: the Omwa-ban, aka “the Gardeners.”

10. In 1853, four heavily armed American warships sailed unannounced into Urago Harbor, just south of modern-day Tokyo. Unknown to Commodore Matthew Perry, the fleet’s commander, Sawamura Jinzaburo Yasusuke, often called the “last ninja,” secretly boarded one of the American ships to gather information about the mysterious foreigners. He returned with items he took from the ship: two loaves of bread, two cigarettes, two candles, and two pages of a document, written in Dutch and believed to be personal writings.

From School Library Journal

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