Ninja Mask???

allenjp

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Does anyone know if ninjas ever actually used the full head coverings we see in all the movies? I know that there is no evidence they wore black, but is the basic shinobi shozoku is anything like what they actually wore? I've never seen any pictures of Hatsumi wearing anything covering his face like that.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi,

As I understand it, the "classic ninja costume", or shinobi shozoku, also called ninniku yoroi in some cases, is not really anything to do with historical ninja of fuedal Japan. The costume originated in the 18th Century from the costumes worn by the puppeteers of the Kabuki theatre... the idea that the puppeteers were accepted by the audience as "invisible" (the same way in the West we accept that the strings on a marrionette are "invisible"), and the same basic costume was slightly altered (swords added etc) to a more Warrior type of styling, and used for Ninja characters. Prior to that, the ninja would be portrayed in a similar fashion to other warriors (Samurai, Ronin).

That said, there have been some scroll documentation showing old methods of tying a scarf or cloth around your head and face, ending in a fashion not dissimilar to the typical hood/mask. I have seen pictures of Hatsumi Sensei wearing this style of wrapped headgear, and Manaka Sensei shows it in his video/DVD series on Togakure Ryu Ninja Biken (at least).

What needs to be realised is that Ninjutsu was part of an illegal counter-culture... and one of the worst/stupidest things you could do was to be caught wearing an outfit that clearly identified you as part of that illegal movement, particularly if you were sneaking in somewhere you shouldn't be! It's kind of the equivelent of walking into a police station and trying to rob someone there...
 

kwaichang

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Indeed, dark colors and facial covering for moving around at night minimizes your "sight picture" to others. The shinobi shozoku just looks neat. :)
SyMartinvalA2.jpg
 
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allenjp

allenjp

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Yeah, what I had read somewhere is that the shinobi shozoku was only used for secret night missions in which obviously, if you were seen you would not want anyone to be able to recognize or identify you. I don't remember where I read that, but it also said that the disguises (samurai, gardener, maid, peasant etc.) would of course be their normal everyday garb because during the day wearing a suit like that was a good way to get found out and killed. It's just that I haven't had a chance to read any authentic material on this subject, and with the amount of misinformation and just plain BS that floats around on this subject I thought I might ask people that might really know...
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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What needs to be realised is that Ninjutsu was part of an illegal counter-culture... and one of the worst/stupidest things you could do was to be caught wearing an outfit that clearly identified you as part of that illegal movement, particularly if you were sneaking in somewhere you shouldn't be! It's kind of the equivelent of walking into a police station and trying to rob someone there...

Every now and then when I'm out walking in the streets, I get this really creepy feeling that I'm following someone - but I'm never really sure whom it is. So just to stay on the safe side, I tend to pick someone I'm absolutely sure that it can't be, and then I follow him instead.

Cue heretic888.
 

Kreth

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Yeah, there's some gems on the internet. I remember stumbling across a rather interesting article several years ago. Apparently when fleeing from samurai, the ninja would often urinate into his fundoshi (while on the run :rolleyes:), then strip it off and swing it over a wall. Apparently *real* ninja had adhesive pee, because it would stick in place and allow the crafty ninja to scale the wall and escape. :roflmao:

Ah, found the link. The amazing fundoshi escape is towards the bottom...
 

kwaichang

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Yep, but that's not half as good as seeing him in a western shirt, string tie and a ten gallon hat!
 

thardey

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Somewhere the idea was floated that having some cloth covering your mouth would dampen the sound of your breathing.

It wasn't really linked to nijutsu, it could be a bandana, scarf, or whatever. It seemed to me to work, but the sound of my own breathing is distorted to my ears anyway, so I couldn't really tell how much difference it made. I was thinking of using this for archery hunting, for those times when you're really close.

Has anybody else heard of this?
 
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allenjp

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Every now and then when I'm out walking in the streets, I get this really creepy feeling that I'm following someone - but I'm never really sure whom it is. So just to stay on the safe side, I tend to pick someone I'm absolutely sure that it can't be, and then I follow him instead.

Cue heretic888.

WTF???
 
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allenjp

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Somewhere the idea was floated that having some cloth covering your mouth would dampen the sound of your breathing.

It wasn't really linked to nijutsu, it could be a bandana, scarf, or whatever. It seemed to me to work, but the sound of my own breathing is distorted to my ears anyway, so I couldn't really tell how much difference it made. I was thinking of using this for archery hunting, for those times when you're really close.

Has anybody else heard of this?

Never heard of it, but I guess it might work. The most logical thing it would be used for is to hide identity, kinda like bank robbers & ski masks or panty hose...
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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Right, you're new to this. Every time someone posts complete BS or anything that defies my sense of logic, I pull off one of my absurdist routines in an effort to calm my nerves and then proceed to calling in support from our resident history buff, heretic888.
 
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allenjp

allenjp

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Right, you're new to this. Every time someone posts complete BS or anything that defies my sense of logic, I pull off one of my absurdist routines in an effort to calm my nerves and then proceed to calling in support from our resident history buff, heretic888.

Right...got it. In that case I guess I'll go hop on my pink three headed pony and ride off to never never land...
 

thardey

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Never heard of it, but I guess it might work. The most logical thing it would be used for is to hide identity, kinda like bank robbers & ski masks or panty hose...

Just a tip for hiding in general (again, I do not study nijustu, so this isn't trying to accurate to that type of question), that I'd heard from snipers, is that the profile of the head and shoulders is one of the most quickly recognized patterns for humans. We are programmed from birth to recognize that shape, and to lock on to it.

Some of the ways that I've seen "ninja headwear" seem to be effective at turning that shape into a generic triangle. It's a trick I use when playing paintball in the woods. It buys me a couple of extra seconds before recognition.

Another trick that the military teaches is that the following pattern:

:) or :-I

Is also almost instantly recognizable. Face paint is applied specifically to disguise that pattern. Of course, if all you have to see is:

II:III

Then you might not pick it up as fast.

But again, this is modern Military thinking, not traditional Ninjutsu, per se.

I don't know if the Identity issue is really that big of a deal. It would be more useful to not be recognized as a human in the first place.
 

kwaichang

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1. The ninja-to was the shape it was because ninja didn't have the money for the curved sword and even if they did, it was reserved for Samurai. The straight blade could be concealed easier also.

2. Covering of the mouth is used in hunting around here. It does "break the shape" of a human head and also does muffle the breath according to friends who hunt.
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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Well it's the same thing as all this hype over what the "Ninja-To" is supposed to have been: What ninja with Brain One in their head would risk being caught in possession of a weapon that so blatantly announces that it is a "ninja weapon"?

No one'll know it's a shinobigatana until you unsheathe it.
 

Grey Eyed Bandit

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1. The ninja-to was the shape it was because ninja didn't have the money for the curved sword and even if they did, it was reserved for Samurai. The straight blade could be concealed easier also.

It's like when you're out shopping, and they walk up to you and ask if you need help with anything, and you're like, "yeah, I'd like a gender change please". Or when you're at McDonald's ordering a menu and they ask you if you're going to eat there, and you're like, "nah, now that you mention it, I think I'll head to Burger King instead".

Cue heretic888(!).
 

Sukerkin

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Kwai, the fantasy history of the Ninja as promulgated during the 20th and 21st centuries has very little to do with reality and a lot to do with theatre and cinema.

It's ground that has been covered many times, particulary the non-existence in history of the Ninja-to. A search here or at SFI will buy you more research material than you could ever wish for.

Quick precis - the ninja-to is a modern-era cinematic prop. There were straight swords in Japan in times of antiquity, prior to the development of what we now recognise as the katana but these were not what is popularly conceived as the Sword of the Ninja.
 

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