They used split-toed boots which were good for climbing and silent movement, and half gloves designed to hide the intentions of the wearer while not obstructing his grip. The skills that Ieyasu requires are sold for money, but are first paid for in years of sweat and pain. From a skilled master, a son or daughter learns the secrets of the ninja, weapons of attack, and tools of seige.
Ninjitsu has incorporated countless other weapons, but many have been lost because they were never recorded. These include numerous tactics that usually involve secrecy and deception. Ninjas have and were used to carry out tasks related to spying, assassinations, and guerrilla warfare. Several could be the forerunners to the well-known throwing star. In The Adventures of Willy Beamish of all people the terribly stereotypical Japanese tourists will give you a smoke bomb and a shuriken as a gift. It’s later revealed that they actually are ninja in disguise.
Combined with the unrest of the Sengoku period, these factors created a demand for men willing to commit deeds considered disreputable for conventional warriors. By the Sengoku period, the shinobi had several roles, including spy (kanchō), ninja hand weapons scout , surprise attacker , and agitator . The ninja families were organized into larger guilds, each with their own territories. A jōnin (“upper person”) was the highest rank, representing the group and hiring out mercenaries.
Just as James Bond is nothing without Q’s range of laser watches and explosive cufflinks, the ninja were nothing without their own array of specialized devices. With its roots as a farming tool found all across Asia, this short sickle is thought to have been first used as a common improvised weapon by farmers defending their lands. Military applications brought about some modifications, such as an indent at the base of the blade used to lock enemy weapons in place.
As a multi-functional tool, the ninjato had a strong tsuba or sword guard, which provided a step if the ninja leaned the sword against the wall. Thus, it was rarely adorned or engraved compared to samurai sword guards. In this room, I had the opportunity to hold a real sword and feel the weight and power of it.
The mizugumo was a set of wooden shoes supposedly allowing the ninja to walk on water. They were meant to work by distributing the wearer’s weight over the shoes’ wide bottom surface. The word mizugumo is derived from the native name for the Japanese water spider . The mizugumo was featured on the show MythBusters, where it was demonstrated unfit for walking on water. The ukidari, a similar footwear for walking on water, also existed in the form of a flat round bucket, but was probably quite unstable.
The social origin of the ninja is seen as the reason they agree to operate in secret, trading their service for money without honor and glory. Historically, the word ninja was not in common use, and a variety of regional colloquialisms evolved to describe what would later be dubbed ninja. Along with shinobi, these include monomi (“one who sees”), nokizaru (“macaque on the roof”), rappa (“ruffian”), kusa (“grass”) and Iga-mono (“one from Iga”). In the unrest of the Sengoku period, mercenaries and spies for hire became active in Iga Province and the adjacent area around the village of Kōga. It is from these areas that much of the knowledge regarding the ninja is drawn.