Friday, July 31, 2009

Ninja Weapons

Since NARUTO is a really popular anime/manga to write fan-characters for, I thought I would make an informational blog post about various ninja weapons used in the real world, because NARUTO is about ninjas and has some decent references to real ninja weapons. This could also be helpful for anyone else that wants to write something about ninjas or Japanese characters.


Fans made of iron - called tessen - were commonly used by both ninja and samurai. There were two kinds of tessen - those that were actual folding fans and those modeled to look like folded fans that could be used to club an opponent. Either way, they could be carried around with no suspicion of being a weapon. When folded, regular tessen could be used the same as the ones used to club opponents. Folding tessen could also have sharpened edges used to cut opponents like a knife or other blade of some sort.


Ashiko were spikes worn on the bottom of the ninja's tabi (socks) or feet. It helped a ninja climb while also could be used in combat - I would assume getting kicked by a ninja while he was wearing ashiko foot spikes would hurt..pretty bad.


The Bo Staff was a hollow, wooden staff commonly made of bamboo or hard wood, and it was an important weapon to a ninja's arsenal. It's usually six feet long. The reason for it being hollow is because of tactics - by flicking the staff with great speed a ninja could launch a small knife or a poison dart at an opponent, catching him off guard.


A bokken was a wooden sword - used most commonly for sword training - but a lot of ninja preferred to use a bokken over a ninja-to, the reason being that it was lighter and easier to carry with no risk of cutting oneself. When used correctly in combat, a bokken could actually break bones and damage internal organs.


The Naginata was a pole weapon, consisting of a wooden shaft with a blade on the end - most commonly light oak wood and a bamboo blade. In Asia, it is most commonly associated with women, but in Europe it is more commonly associated with men.


The Kusarigama is a weapon - formally a farm tool - that consists of the kama (the Japanese version of a sickle, or a small scythe) on a chain with a weight at the opposing end. It was used by swinging the kama end above one's head while holding the weight in your hand. It was then thrown at the opponent's sword or pole to steal it from them, or their limbs to immobilize them.


Probably the most common and stereotypical ninja weapon, the nunchaku (or nun-chucks) is a weapon consisting of two commonly wooden, sometimes metal sticks connected by a short chain or rope. Originally a farming tool, the nunchaku is an effective close-range weapon. It is often used to strike from unexpected angles.


The ono, or battle axe, is a fairly rare ninja weapon and is rarely used. It's usually four feet long with an over-sized blade. I've never seen or heard of it used in combat so I don't know much about it - because it's so rare.


The shuriken is another common, stereotypical ninja weapon. The shuriken is a concealed weapon, most used for throwing. Shuriken were also used to stick into wood or the ground for intimidation, and when thrown, sometimes they were dipped with poison.


The ninjato - also called the ninjaken or shinobigatana - was the 'official' ninja sword. It was about half the size of a samurai's katana. They were used mostly as a stabbing weapon and were small enough to slip through a samurai's armor and, of course, stab him.


(no picture available)

A doka is a small container for safely carrying a live coal. The device is useful for lighting fuses with minimum fuss. On a cold night, it can be used to warm fingers before a delicate task. It is said to be an aid to ninjutsu.


(no picture available)

Because ninja worked by night, they needed light of course! A gando was a lantern used by ninja, lit by a candle.


Yet ANOTHER stereotypical ninja weapon, the kunai. The kunai was originally a Japanese gardening tool. It is commonly called the ninja throwing knife, as it was used as a knife or for throwing.


The sai are commonly fought with in pairs; they are daggers with a short, slender, pointed blade rather than a long, thick, and flat one. The sai are commonly rounded at the hilt, but there are also manji sai that have one handle point pointing up and the other pointing down.


Smoke bombs were used by ninja as either a diversion to distract opponents or to escape undercover.


The Ozatsu was the ninja cannon. Like the ono, it's rare and I've never seen it used to mentioned much. I don't even have a picture of one. I suppose they would be used and would work like any other feudal-era cannon.


(no picture available)

The shobo was a weapon used for striking pressure points. It was a piece of wood that was gripped by the wielder and was hung by a ring worn on the middle finger. Some versions were rings with a wooden peg attached on top.


The suntetsu was similar to the shobo. A Suntetsu is a metal rod/spike about 6 inches in length with a ring attached to it. The middle finger is inserted into the ring and the Suntetsu rests in the hand by various grips. It is also considered a concealed weapon.

Well, that's all the ninja weapons I can think of for now. If I ever remember another one, I'll add it to this list ^__^ if you have another weapon to tell me about, please don't be afraid to mention it! I'll be happy to add another weapon to the list!


  1. That photo under "naginata" shows no naginata at all. This is nagamaki. Naginata had no tsuba.

  2. You have some wrong information on here. I'd like to help you clarify, if you don't mind....much of your information is very Hollywood.
    Bo staff were a chinese weapon and never used by ninja, they were also never hollow or made of oak since it is a very hard wood, it would crack. Something more flexible is used, I forget the wood used, but it was more like Poplar. Ninjato are completely Hollywood design and never found in the real world. The only similarity is the chokuto katana or hira zukuri katana and predates traditional katana and were mostly made in China and imported into Japan. Possibly ninja used these older swords as they did not have the means to obtain better katana. Ninja generally used whatever they could get their hands on.
    Women were never EVER allowed to train, so your referenced that the naginata is associated with women is way off. The naginata was a very revered weapon of the samurai and generally not used by ninja since it was impossible to be stealthy with it. Samurai had no reason to hide, the ninja did.

  3. actually teh ninjato DID exist, but not by tht name. it was a shoto with a daito tsuka in a daito saya. teh tsuka and saya were meant to look like a true daito so9 teh enemy was expecting about how long nuketsuke would take. however, they would be fooled by the missing shaku of length with the nagasa being tht of a shoto.

    健康長寿命 影の灯
    kenkou chou jumyou kage no akiri
    (good health long life, kage no akiri)

  4. oh yes and sry to say but the sai were not used by ninja. "Western popular culture often portrays the sai as a weapon of the ninja, but it was not actually used in any traditional martial arts from the mainland Japan" wikipedia. tht and the most common shuriken was the bo-shuriken which wasnt even mentioned. they were a lot easier to fabricate since they were made from nails. one more reason i forgot with the "ninjato" is tht the shoto blade was much easier to use indoors vs a daito.

    健康長寿命 影の灯
    kenkou chou jumyou kage no akiri
    (good health long life, kage no akiri)

  5. Mates,before you start spectulating what existed or not go to the japanese iga ninja museum website,all the weapons you say dint exist or the ninja didnt use are all there...

  6. About the Kusari Gama: ninja's didn't swing the kama above their head. I'm guessing the reason for this is because it's just too risky to swing a blade shaped like that over one's head. The proper way to use a Kusari Gama is to hold the kama in your hand while you swing the weight. The weight is perfectly able to smash and damage bone. The kama is used when your opponent has managed to get close to you. The reason I think people get it confused is because the kama flying through the air and slicing the heck outta your enemy is just plain cool. I'm no know it all, but I just thought I'd help out, no hatin' from me. This is a useful blog, please add and update the pictures :)

  7. Wow imagine being hit by an iron fan!