ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Deadly Flowers: Mochizuke Chiyome and the Kunoichi

Updated on March 15, 2014

Kunoichi

[[File:Ninja Museum.jpg|Ninja Museum]]
[[File:Ninja Museum.jpg|Ninja Museum]]

Lethal Beauty

Forget everything you know about the ninja—especially the female ninja—right now. Seriously. For the majority of you, the only information you’ve had regarding the ninja comes from movies and video games (I’m not scolding you, I’m just explaining), and they have, naturally taken great liberties when it comes to the ninja (and FYI, the plural is not “ninjas”, it’s just “ninja.” You know, like “moose.”) And more often than not, they are waaaaaaay off target when it comes to the female ninja, called the kunoichi—meaning “deadly flower.”

It’s been speculated that the ninja have been in existence for at least 2,500 years, and that the art, called ninjutsu, was imported to Japan by either Chinese pirates, wizards, refugees fleeing from the Tang dynasty of Japan, or, as many ninja would claim, was created by the fierce Tengu demons (crow-men) who then taught it to humans. The ninja lived primarily in the mountainous Iga and Koga regions of Japan, far out of the reach of the samurai (warriors of the noble class) and their lords for many years. In this rugged terrain, the ninja learned how to move swiftly and fade into shadows, and, being poor farmers, learned to adapt their tools into killing weapons. The Koga and Iga provinces each had fifty ninja training schools, and training began in childhood for both boys and girls.

Contrary to popular belief, the ninja were not just mere assassins (though they definitely did that too, trust me), but they were highly effective spies as well, and the kunoichi were particularly effective as many people did not see a woman as being a potential threat. It was easy for a kunoichi to disguise herself as a maid, nun, or geisha (a traveling entertainer, not to be confused with prostitute) and make her way into the home of her target. Frequently, a kunoichi would seduce her target, wearing down his defenses with her sexual charms, fawning over him and playing to his every whim until she had the man so besotted that he would unwittingly share secrets with her, thinking that she was someone that could be trusted. As soon as he was asleep—or dead, if that was her order—the kunoichi would be out the nearest window, racing back to her headquarters with her information.

And usually the poor sap she slept with had absolutely no clue what happened.

Now, most people believe that the samurai and the ninja hated each other and were constantly at war. That’s just another Hollywood lie; in reality, the samurai and the ninja often worked very closely together. They could be friends … in Chiyome’s case, they even married.

Mochizuke Chiyome was a kunoichi of the Koga province. She was married to the samurai Mochizuke Moritoki and was extremely loyal to his uncle, the daimyo (warlord) Takeda Shingen. In 1575, Moritoki was killed at the Battle of Kawanakajina, and Shingen, well aware that he was surrounded by enemies, approached Chiyome with the request that she operate a group of kunoichi from within the city to act as spies and messengers.

Ordinarily, the only way a person could become a ninja was have been already born into a ninja clan, but instead Chiyome began to collect poor orphan girls, prostitutes, runaways and displaced victims of civil wars, girls and women who were familiar with the area and more than willing to be recruited if it meant getting them out of this hellish life they had found themselves in. With her students collected (some accounts say that she had trained as many as 300 girls in the end), Chiyome set her dojo (school) up in the village of Nazu, out in the open—and nobody had a clue.

To the public they were being trained as miko, the shrine maidens that traveled from one end of Japan to the other (thus giving them the perfect excuse to travel in the open and spy without being questioned), but behind the dojo’s closed doors Chiyome was training her future kunoichi how to walk silently, how to mix poisons, how to infiltrate heavily guarded areas, how to mix blinding powder and seal them in empty egg shells, how to use weapons such as the koshigatana (twin swords) and kakute (a ring with a sharp, poisonous spike on it, easily concealed and favored among kunoichi), how to dislocate their joints to escape from ropes and manacles, how to fight, how to evade and hide, how to use psychological warfare, how to perfectly impersonate a geisha (making for the perfect disguise to infiltrate an enemy’s headquarters), how to seduce … and how to kill. The kunoichi used their training as miko to wander across Japan, setting up secret bases in various cities and villages, then switching their disguises to geisha in order to spy on rival daimyo and other samurai. Their information was collected and reported back to Chiyome, who was able to protect Daimyo Takeda Shingen and keep him two steps ahead of his enemies until his sudden death. (I’m not speculating on that one.)

Unfortunately—and perhaps not surprisingly, given how secretive the ninja were—not much else had been written about Chiyome or her deadly flowers. Because of this Chiyome has been regarded as a myth by many historians, a Robin Hood-type figure that instead of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, she rescued girls and women who had been mistreated from the streets and taught them to be strong, fearless and disciplined. Perhaps Chiyome was invented as propaganda in order to frighten Takeda Shingen’s enemies.

Or perhaps that’s what the kunoichi want you to think.



Mochizuke Chiyome works referenced:

Uppity Women of Medieval Times, Vicki Leon 2007

Women Warriors, David E. Jones 1997

Ninja; the Shadow Warrior, Joel Levy 2007

The Way of the Warrior, Chris Crudelli 2008

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Greyfeyne 

      4 years ago

      I love the ninja and this article is great. I love the detail about the names of the weapons and the historic battles. More about the ninja please!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)