IGA UENO CASTLE
( White Phoenix Castle )
The birth Place of
the Iga Ningas
The Birth Place
the Ninjas and
the great Haiku Poet
The Ninjas of
The Saint of Haiku Poem
The Birth Place of
Ueno City is usually called Iga Ueno 伊賀上野, because in Japan, there are many places called Ueno. The city ,with a population of 62,000, nestles in a basin surrounded by the Suzuka mountains 鈴鹿山脈,the Muroh Mountains 室生山脈, and other mountains.
The city is rich in cultural heritages, history and traditions. It is a beautiful place, and is one of many so called "Small Kyoto"小京都 and is situated within 80 kilometeres from Osaka,Nagoya, Kyoto, and Nara. But, Iga Ueno is not the place which comes to mind of millions of people, as a place for a visit, who visit those cities and Ise-Shima Peninsula 伊勢志摩 which is in the coast of the same Mie prefecture 三重県 and abounds in many beautiful tourist spots like Ise Shrine 伊勢神宮 and attracts millions of tourists,Japanese and foreigners every year.
Iga Ueno is the birth-place of the great Haiku poet Matsuo Basho, and also the home of the Ninja worriors of Iga, and has beautiful traditional alleys.
People think that Iga Ueno is a secluded place among mountains,where the misterious Iga Ningas once lived in old days.but it is actually not an inaccesible place. You can go there by car or by train, although you can not go there by a bullet train.
From the Heian Period until the end of of the Kamakura period, 90 % of the land of Iga was the domains of the Todaiji Temple 東大寺 in Nara. In the mountains which surround the Iga region, there lived people who were descendants of noblemen and worriors who escaped the civil wars in Kyoto. They were ascetics called "Yamabushi" or " Shugen-ja" 山伏 修験者, who ptaticed the mistic religoius rites and acquired almost super-human skills in the martial arts by hard training.
In the Muromachi period, people in various areas of Iga became independent
from the Todaiji Temple and the powerless rulers, and they became unitied,
and established the Republic in the Iga region independent from any ruler.
They elected 12 leaders among them. They decided to keep off any intruders
into the Iga region. They agreed, samurai and civilians alike, to get united and
fight againt any invaders.
They decided on any agreements by sending circular letters and they
exchanged information about any possible invaders from outiside. They
established the republic called Iga Sookoku Ikki - 伊賀惣国一揆 . Independent
Coutries of Iga.
They bacame the origin of the good secret agents.- the Iga Ninjas, with good
skills in martial arts and iintelligence activities.
But, the Iga region was small unified province. Oda Nobunaga was on his way
to unify all Japan. In 1585, One of his sons Oda Nobukatsu 織田信雄 was
adopted by the family of Kitabatake 北畠 - the family of Kokushi - ruler -
in the province of Iga. But, at that time, the Kokushis - governors - had no
political, economical and military power. and there only governors in name only,
and more so in the province of Iga. He wanted to be the real ruler of the
province of Iga.
In 1578, he ordered Takigawa Katsumasa to construct a castle at Maruyama as
a military base to attack the Iga people.
People of Iga, considered it a great threat for their security and attacked
the Maruyama Castle and Nobukatsu, defeated, fled to the province Ise.
In 1579, Nobukatsu attacked the province of Iga , but his troops were beaten
down completely. .
He made all these moves without consulting his father Nobunaga, who became
so furiously mad at his son,and told him : " I'm ashamed to call you my son. "
In 1581, Nobunaga's troops of 60,000 invaded the Province of Iga from the 6
People of Iga of 9,000 worriors fought bravely but were defeated, and retreated
to 2 castles,and they defended themselves 2 weeks, but they surrendered finally.
This war is called " Rebellion of " Tenshoh Iga" - Tenshoh Iga No Ran -
It is surprising that in spite of his notorious ruthlessness towards his enemies,
Nobunaga ordered a cease-fire and refrained from annihilating the Iga
Ninjas, even allowing some to escape. His troops could enter the two
castle without further military engagement.
He may have wanted to prevent ant further casualities of his men. Of
the Ninjas who survived, some fled to the province of Ise. They and their
descendants came to play important military roles in later years.
But, Nobunaga crushed completely the small Republic of Iga, a country of
only 100,000 inhabitants who scoffed at the moral codes of loyalty to the
authorities and the rulers. The Republic of the people who believed only in
individual skills, strength and iltelligence disappeared for ever in 1581 from
the stages of Japanese history. It would came to be governed by the rulers.
In 1585, Tsuzui Sadatsugu became the ruler of the province of Iga, and
constructed the Castle of Iga Ueno on the site of the castle ruined by
the rebellion. But, in 1608, Ieyatsu, after defeating the Toyotomis, expelled
him from the castle finding fault with some misconducts of his officials and
under the suspision that he was a christian. and appointed warlord Fujidoh
Takatora 藤堂高虎 as the ruler of the provinces of Ise and Iga , with 320,000
koku of rice production.
Takatora was born as the second son of the samurai family in a village called
Fujidoh,in the province of Ohmi ( 近江 ）. He had served for warlord Asai
Nagamasa 浅井長政, Oda Nobusumi 織田信澄, Hashiba Hidenaga 羽柴秀長,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉 and a few more warlords, before he began to
serve for Tokugawa Ieyasu. He fought bravely in many battles for his lords, but
all of them died or were killed. He was considered as an oportunist , because,
after the death of Hideyoshi, he foresaw the future domination of the Tokugawas.
This made him to cultivate friendship with Ieyasu, while many others still were
faithful to the son of the deceased Hideyoshi.
After he fought bravely in the first invasion war of Korea ( 1592-93) at the order
of Hideyoshi, he became the lord of Uwajima 宇和島 in Shikoku with 70,000
koku in 1595. After he fought courageously in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600
at the vanguards of the Tokugawa forces,he could obtained the domain of
Imabari 今治 in Shikoku and he became the lord of Imabari of 203,000 koku.
He did not like to rule the province from the castle in the mountains, and
wanted to move to the sea-side.
今治城 （別名 吹上城）
Castle of Imabari, Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture Shikoku
constructed by Fujidoh Takatora
He constructed the unique and magnificent castle on the shore facing the sea and with sea water in the moats. People of Imabari are grateful to this lord who was in Imabari only several years, as he turned a small village of a few hundred houses to a big town. In 2004, the city of Imabari would celebrate 400th year of the foundation of the town and the construction of the castle.
He was a genius in civil engineering and arquitecture of castles. He constructed in his life 5 castles for his own ruling,and participated in 8 joint projects of the constructions of the castles at the order of Ieyasu, such as the Osaka Castle, Edo Castle. Wakayama Castle,and others. He was appointed in 1608 as the lord of Iga and Ise.
He was a so called outsider Daimyo - Tozama Daimyo -,and not a Fudai Daimyo 譜代大名 of the Tokugawas, a lord of the family who had served for the Tokugawas for generations from hard times of the Tokugawas in the province of Mikawa 三河. But, he was one of the outsider daimyo most trusted by the Tokugawas. He was a warlord of only 20,000 koku in the small domain in the province of Kisyuu in 1587, and in 1508, he became the lord of Ise and Iga with 320,000 koku. After he became the ruler in Ise and Iga, he employed many ninjas as his retainers.
He once informed Ieyasu of the complot of Ishida Mitsunari to assassinate
Ieyasu, and saved him. He saved him one more time. In the Battle of Summer
of Osaka, the headquaters of Ieyasu was attacked by Sanada Yukimura
真 田幸村, but Ieyasu was saved by Takatora and could escape. So, he was
so trusted by Ieyasu and could receive from him the highest privileges.
Ieyasu, when giving to Takatora the provinces of Iga and Ise, told to Takatora :
" Tsu is a plain place to build a castle as a resting place, Iga is the province
to be treasured - Hizoo no kuni 秘蔵 の国, Ueno should be the fortified
place - Yoogai no Chi ー 要害の地 −.
" He understood what Ieyasu meant. He constructed the rock foundation 30
meters tall for the castle, the tallest in Japan, and he constructed 5 story
splendid donjon againt the possible attack of the Tomotomis. But, in 1612,
the donjon was destroyed by a typhoon.just before it would be completed.
The Toyotomis perished in 1615, and in this year,Shogunate government
established the "General Laws of the Samurai family" - Buke Shohatto
武家諸法度 which prohibited the construction of any new castles.
In the modern ages, in 1935, a rich forest owner in Kumano offered a larger
quantity of timber to a local politician Kawasaki Katsu 川崎克 to enlarge his
house. He said : " A politician does not need to have a palace to live in.
Please donate timber to construct the castle. Kawasaki Katsu himself donated
also his fortune. The present beautiful story castle was completed in 1938.
Ieyasu was saved once by the Iga Ninjas and the Kooga( Kooka) Ninjas.
In 1582, when Oda Nobunaga was attacked by his general Akechi Mitsuhide,
and he committed Seppuku, he was in Sakai with his small troop, surrounded
by enemies, and it was very difficult to break siege and retun to Mikawa. But,
the head of the Iga Ningas Hattori Hanzoo 服部半蔵 proposed him a plan
to escape, passing through Kooga(Kooka) and Iga regions to return to
the province of Mikawa. Ieyasu accepted the proposal.
Hanzoo broke siege secretely, and went to meet the head of his allied Ninjas
of "Kooga", which is adjacent to the Iga region, and asked him to cooperate
defending and guiding the small troop of Iyeyasu. The head of the Kooga
Ninjas ー Tarao Shiroobee-Mitsuhiro 多羅尾四郎 兵衛光弘. said that he was
willing to help them.
He climbed to the top of a mountain and sent smoke signals over the Kooga
region, calling the Ninjas to arms. This could instantly bring 300 Kooga and Iga
Ninjas to his side. They passed through the Kooka and Iga regions defended
and guided by Hanzoo and other Ninjas, crossed the Ise bay by boat, and
came back to Mikawa in 2 days.
The families of the Iga Ninjas were classified into 3 classes. The families of
"High Ninjas - Jyoonin 上忍”, " Middle Ninjas - Chuunin - 中忍 ”, and " Low
Ninjas - Genin - 下忍. The Hattoris 服部, the Momochis 百地, and
the Fujibayashis 藤林 were the families of the " High Ninjas ". According to
the descrptions in the Books of the Arts of Ninjutsu - " Bansen Shuukai "
満川集海, the High Ninjas are the Ninjas with superb skills, but they should
noticed for their skills.
" Their sounds and smells should not be noticed. They should not be noted
for their strength, skill and courage. Their skills should not look like man-made.
They should look like the creations of the Universe.
In 1581, in the War of the Rebellion of Tenshoo Iga, Nobunaga did not annihilated the Iga Ninjas,allowing some of them escape to Ise. The families of the High Ninjas survived. The lord of Iga and Ise Fujidoh Takatora 藤堂高虎 employed Yasuda Uneme Motonori 保田采女元則 as his chielf minister. He came from a family of the Ninjas - the Hattoris. In 1676, Fujibayashi Yasutake 藤林保武 wrote 22 volumes of the the martial arts of the Ninjas entitled Bansen Syuukai 満川集海 - "Ten thousands rivers enter the same sea" .The title means that many different teachings of martial arts of 49 schools of
the Kooka and the Iga Ninjas are the same in spirit, as many different rivers enter the same sea.
Ninja in the 20th century
Astonishingly, there were ninjas in the 20th century. Onoda Hiro-o 小野田寛 郎 second lieutenant of the Imperial Army of Japan was one of them. He was born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1922. While he was a middle school pupil,he practiced Kendoo and he was an excellent swordsman. ( Now, he owns the title of the 5th Dan, and Renshi - 錬師 − training master. )
In 1942, he entered 61th Regiment of Infantry of Wakayama. After graduated from the miltary acedemy, he studied in the Nakano School 中野学校. It was a school for the secret agents. At school, he studied Ninjutsu - the martial arts of the Ninjas, and he learned the Books of the Ninjas - Mansen
Syuukai, besides many subjects to become a modern Ninja, like psychology.
In December 1944, he was sent to the Japanese Headquaters in the Phillipine Islands. There, he was given two orders. (1) Remain in the Lupang Island for the intelligence activities and (2) to command the guerrilla battles. In Agust 1945, Japan surrendered. Many Japanese soldiers in the Pacific Islands and other Aisian countries began to return to Japan. But, he remained in the Lupang Island nearly 30 years, sticking doggedly to the orders, bacause any order to relieve him of the assigned tasks were not given to him.
In 1949, Akatsu came out from the jungle and surrendered. He belonged to the small band which leieutinant Onoda commanded. He gave an information about 3 more soldiers in the jungle.
In 1952, the famous reporter of Asahi Shinbun Tsuji Yutaka shouted in the jungle " The war is over. Please come out of ther jungle". Several attemps to make them cease fire failed. After two soldiers had died in the gun battles with the local forces in 1972, he became the sole survivor of the small band he had commanded.
In 1972-73, the Japanese government sent delegations composed of his father and his brother to search for him and left in the jungle thousands of the leaflets calling him to come out from the jungle and the letters written by his father directed to him. He believed that all these letters were the enemies tricks. He was so cautious and continued hided, because the Japanese searching group was always accompanied with the filipine soldiers.
In 1974, one young Japanese, Suzuki came to the island to find him. He finally met lieutenant Onoda in the jungle. The lieutinant asked him : " Do you come from the Japanese government ? " The young man answered : " No, I'm just a tourist. The war is over. Won't you come back to Japan with me ?".The Japanese soldier answered : " No, I won't. " " Why not ", asked the young man. " " Because I'm on duty by the order. I must receive the formal and official order to be relieved from duty. "
As a good intelligence officer, he knew many facts that had happened in Japan. An interviewer once asked him : " Do you really believed it, when you heard the news of the bullet train railway constructed in 1964 ? He answered : " I did't doubt it. The technology will advance." Before the Second World War, the Japanese-owned company - Manchuria Railway in China had 1,000 kilometers' railway between Harbin and Dalian 大連, with the most advanced and rapid trains "ASIA GO" アジア号 which ran at 120 kilometers per hour. He also answered to the interviewer that he could understand what the T.V.set was like. He said he knew what it was like. He said that In 1928 ( 3rd. year of Showa Era ),professor Takayanagi Kenjiroo of the Hamamatsu
Industrial High School showed in Tokyo his first successful experiment of television.
"The images sent did not move. But, technology will advance. Also, in 1930, NHK ( Japan Broadcasting Society ) in the joint research with the Waseda University succeeded in the television experiment. " He knew all these facts as an excellent ninja in the 20th century.He once stole into a house in a village and got a transistor radio. He listened to the news every day, and he kept himself well informed of what happened in the world and in Japan. The Japanese governent , based on the information given by Suzuki, sent once again the delegation accompanied with the former commander Taniguchi to the Lupang Island, and the formal order to relieve him from duty was given to him in the jungle by former commander Taniguchi. He met the president Marcos and apologized for what he did in the Lupang Island, and as a sign of his surrender, he handed his sword to the president, who returned it back to him.
On 12th March,1974, he arrived at the Narita Air Port. He could view the beautiful cherry blossoms in April in his native town in Wakayama. Thus, his 30 year long war in the jungle ended. The emperor and the primer minister wanted to meet him, but he went first to the tombs of his men died in the jungle. The government of Japan gave him ￥1,000,000, which he donated to the Yasukumi Shrine for the peace of the souls of his men who died in the jungle of Lupang Island.
In the next year, in 1975, he immigrated to Brazil, and started the cattle raising business in 1,200 hectare ranch. It took him 10 years for the business to get on track. Before going to Brazil, at
age of 54, he had got married with Machie, an educated woman, 38 years old, He was like 24 years old, because he lost 30 years in the jungle.
1,200 hectare ranch was bought with all her savings. as he was penniless,after donating to the Yasukuni Shrine ￥1,000,000 which the Japanese government gave to him.About 7 years, he could not earn any money from his ranch business.
In 1978, he founded the Japanese Society for the Japanese community in a small town in Brasil where he owned his ranch.He served as president of the Society 8 years.
In 1984, he bagan to teach children how to live in nature in Japan. In 1989, he founded "Nature School" in japan to teach children how to camp and how to live in nature.
The place where Onoda was born is now called Kainan City 海南市. It is a beautiful place on the coast of the Ise Peninsula of Kishuu (Now, wakayama Prefecture). In old days, this place was the base stronghold of people called Saikashuu 雑 賀 衆. They were not called Ninjas but, they were also indipendant-minded like Iga people, and did not liked to be ruled.
They were wiiling to work sometimes as mercenaries for some warlords though. Their military power was highly valued and wanted by many warlords. because they had troops of 3,000 excellent musketeers. All of them were astonishingly good shooters. Curiously enough, they were too rich to work as mercenaries only for money. They had fleets not only for comabating and but also for trading. They were great believers of Ikkooshu Buddhism. They were the great obstacles for the unification of Japan of Oda Nobunaga, who finally could beat them in 1577. In his veins
of Onoda, the blood of the Saikashuu should runs.
In Kishuu, there lived another people called Negoro-shuu 根来衆. They were also indepedent -minded. They were not so unfriendly with Oda Nobunaga, but they did not like to succumb to the power of his successor Hideyoshi. They lived around the Negoro Temple of Shingon sect of Buddhism. They were devout buddhist of Shingon Buddhists. They had also poweful troops of musqueteers, and good shooters. Hideyoshi could defeat them in 1585, but he must order many warlords to participate in the battle, and he had to send 103,500 soldiers to defeat them.
Kishuu 紀州 was one of the 3 most important domains of the Tokugawas, and was called Gosanke 御三家 − " 3 honorable families of the Tokugawas ". When the main Tokugawa familiy in Edo did not have any son to succeed the shogun, the new shogun was elected among the sons of the 3 honorable families of the Tokugawas. Yoshimune 吉宗 ( 1684 - 1751 ) was the lord of Kisuu. But, when he was 33 years old, he was appointed as the 8th Tokugawa Shogun.
He is considered as the most wise shogun beside the founder of the Tokugawa Regime, the first Tokugawa Shogun Ieyasu. When he took office, the culture of the commoners in Edo was at its apex, but the extravagantly luxurious life style of rich merchants and the opulent society were affecting the life style of the samarai. There were some threatening signs for the shogunate. His " Reforms of Kyoho - Kyooho no Kaikaku 享保の改革 reinforced the foundations of Shogunate and made it last 7 generations more.
The financial situation of Shogunate was critical. He made a drastic cut in the budget.He encouraged martial arts and frugality, and prohibited the production of luxury goods.
The Edo castle had been guarded by Kooka and Iga Ninjas employed by Ieyasu whowho was saved by them. But, Yoshimune dismissed all Ninjas and made Negoro-shuu and Saika-shuu peoples which he brought from Kishuu.
Thare are two famous books written about the military strategics. One is " Art of War " 孫子之兵法 by Chinese stratigist Sun Zi 孫子, the other is " On War " - 戦 争 論 written by Karl Von Clausewitz ( 1780-1831) - Prussian soldier and strategist. These books are used as text books in many military academies in the world. But, Mansen Suukai was written only for the descendants of the Ninjas to read secretly. The meanings of many words are diffucult to understand. Mansen Shuukai was not translated into any foreign language, as far as I know. I believe that it is studied in any military academies outside of Japan. I don't believe that CIA of FBI of the United States have the English translation of the whole texts of this Japanese classic of espionage,
The 8 volumes of Bansen Syuukai in modern Japanese was published by Seisyuudo, in Kooka-cho, la cuna de los Kooka Ninja, in 1975.
Recently,the Iga Ninja Museum 伊賀忍者博物館 bagan to translate these sacred books of the Ninjas into modern Japanese and made it publically available on-line. But, it is not a word by word translation. Some paragraphs are the extracts but trying to convey the essential meaning of the whole parapgraph. Some classical words will not be put into modern Japanese, because there are no equivalent modern words. ( About " Bansen Shuukai " Only the first voulum translated in modern Japanese is available on internet now.- In July, 2003 http://www.iganinja.jp/japanese/mansen/flam.html )
The Nakano School 中野学校 of Japanese Army was established in 1938 ( 13th year of the Showa Era). for the espionage and guerrilla battles. The existance of the school itself was the secret. At the entrance, it had the plate of " Tele-comunication Research Institute of Ministry of Army ( 陸軍省 通信研究所）. The students were prohibited to wear military uniforms. They were called with the false names. They were trained as the Ninjas of the 20th century according to the principles of " their sounds and smells should not be noticed. ", written in the sacred book of the Ninjas - Bansen Syuukai. They studied that book there ", and learned also the martial arts of the Ninjas - Ninjutsu.
Interesting story of the Ninja Bashoh 芭蕉 忍者説
Kooka 甲賀 Ninja is known usually as Kooga Ninga in Japan. But, this is wrong. But, the wrong information was transmitted to foreign countries. You can find more sites on the internet with the wrong key words of " Koga Ninja " than "Koka Ninjas", or " Kooka Ninjas". In old days, Kooka was called " KAFUKA ", but it came to be called " KOOKA ".
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