Ninjas, actually called shinobi (women ninjas were called kunoichi), were spies and assassins for the samurai class in Japan as they rose to power. The samurai had a code of ethics that they swore to uphold, so the ninja's job was to complete a mission by any means necessary (i.e. - doing the samurai's dirty work). The skills of the shinobi and kunoichi, called ninjutsu, became streamlined and taught in schools in the late 1100s CE. According to about.education's fascinating article about ninjas, there were eight primary tactics to learn: "body skills, karate, spear fighting, staff fighting blade-throwing, use of fire and water, fortification and strategy and concealment." Ninjas were particularly useful during the 1300s and 1600s CE when there were waring governing powers and continuous power struggles throughout Japan. Once the Edo Period began in the 1600s, ninjas were not needed and the profession became a piece of lore and legend. They have since been resurrected and embellished in stories and movies (where some have even developed superpowers!)
Wood block print of an archetypal ninja by Katsushika Hokusai (Wikipedia.com).
DID YOU KNOW that ninjas did not wear all black suits and masks? That style of costume is said to have been developed for kabuki theater! Ninjas, when in a uniform for a night mission, typically wore navy blue because it was harder to see. But more often they were disguised as regular people/other professions like farmers, servants, soldiers or whatever would work for them to accomplish their mission.
Make edible ninja stars!
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