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The Hidden History of the Ninjato: Dispelling Myths and Unveiling Truths

During Japan’s warring period, the Ninja or Shinobi were known for their stealthy operations, relying on various weapons like the Ninjato sword. Despite their remarkable skills, they lived in secrecy, shrouding them in mystery. As such, there are very few records regarding them, which makes it difficult to get precise details about their armaments. Due to the absence of hard evidence, experts have conjectured about the sort of sword they may have used. The shinobigatana or katana have been proposed by some. But research on the history of the ninja shows that they used a range of weaponry to accomplish their tasks.

History of Ninjato

Like many other facets of ninja history, the existence of the ninjato sword from previous periods is still unknown. Although it’s well known that ninjas occasionally utilized swords for their missions, the swords that are colloquially called “ninja swords” were actually made in the Edo era. No genuine ninja swords from before this time have been discovered. Ninjas aimed to keep their identities hidden, unlike samurai whose swords often indicated their clan affiliation. This secrecy likely meant ninjas avoided carrying swords that might reveal their identity.

Unfortunately, there’s a lack of physical evidence from the Sengoku to the Edo period matching the description of the ninjato. The history of this blade can only be traced clearly from the 20th century onwards.

Swords Katana japanese ninjato Swordskingdom swordskingdom.co.uk The ninjato can be described as having a short and straight blade. It is claimed to be similar to the shikomizue, a concealed sword that is often disguised as a cane or walking stick. The difference between the two swords is that the ninjato has a square-shaped guard.

The ninjato typically has a thick, straight blade measuring less than 60 centimeters. It’s believed this design arose because ninjas lacked skilled blacksmithing abilities and often couldn’t afford custom-made swords. Instead, they fashioned straight blades from scrap metal, contrasting with the refined curve of the katana. They likely used basic materials like iron or steel, and the cutting edge may have been sharpened on stone.

Some studies suggest the straight blade of the ninjato was influenced by a deity named Fudo Myo Oh, known as the patron deity of ninja families, who wielded a similar sword. Historians specializing in Japanese military history argue that the sword was the most crucial weapon for ninjas, used for both combat and various tasks. They also suggest ninjas preferred shorter blades for convenience and practicality.

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