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14H01-Seppuku.jpg

Seppuku: Ritual Suicide in Samurai Japan

by Susan Spann Seppuku (sometimes also referred to as hara-kiri) is a form of Japanese ritual suicide. Many Westerners recognize this Japanese form of suicide, in which a person (often, but not always, male) slits his own stomach with [...]
14E30 Hokusai sketch (ninja)(public domain) copy

Shinobi Shuko: the Ninja’s Climbing Claws

by Susan Spann Ninjas are famous for climbing walls with the ease and grace of a spider. According to legend, ninjas could scale even impossibly high, completely polished surfaces with ease. Some myths even claimed they could fly. In reality, [...]
14H01 Seppuku

Seppuku: Ritual Suicide in Samurai Japan

by Susan Spann Seppuku (sometimes also referred to as hara-kiri) is a form of Japanese ritual suicide. Many Westerners recognize this Japanese form of suicide, in which a person (often, but not always, male) slits his own stomach with a sword, [...]
14F27 Medieval Scene

Shuriken: the Ninja Star

by Susan Spann If I asked you to name a ninja weapon, the most common answers would be a sword and a shuriken, which many people call a “throwing star.” In reality, “shuriken” translates “behind-the-hand knife” [...]
Kunoichi-Cats-Claw

Japan’s Female Ninjas: the Kunoichi

<h2 style=”text-align: center;”>By Susan Spann</h2> The Hollywood ninja dresses in black, appears from the shadows, and strikes without warning. He’s also usually male. <b>In reality, not all ninjas were male, [...]
14F13 Yoshitoshi

The Seven Disguises Used by Real Ninjas

By Susan Spann Hollywood likes to portray the ninja in black pajamas, scaling a roof to assassinate a samurai. In reality, ninjas, also called shinobi, were more like spies. Assassinations played a role (as did those famous dark pajamas) [...]
Sandaime Onoe Kikugorō no Ōboshi Yuranosuke

Ninja Swords: Better Than Just a Blade

By Susan Spann Real ninjas needed lightweight, concealable weapons which also served a multitude of purposes. With limited space and weight available, ninjas (also known as shinobi) generally opted for multi-use weapons, and carried only those [...]
14E30 Hokusai (pd)

Real Ninjas Wore Black … Or Did They?

By Susan Spann Popular culture often depicts the ninja as a hooded, black-clad man with a sword in one hand and a shuriken in the other – silent, lethal, and invisible against the midnight sky. Unfortunately, the Hollywood version of [...]
Samurai in Hakama (public domain)

Know Your Ninjas – Shinobi Spies of Medieval Japan

by Susan Spann Ninjas are a popular part of 21st century culture. We see them in films and on television, in Internet memes, and even on chocolates and coffee mugs – but how much do you know about who ninjas really were? In medieval Japan, [...]