ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hattori Hanzo: Ninja Master

Updated on May 16, 2012
Hattori Hanzo
Hattori Hanzo

The Master Ninja

When you think of a ninja you probably think of sword wielding guys jumping around in ninja suits. You may even think about a fictional character from a movie or video game. Who you should think about when you think of ninja is Hattori Hanzo. Hattori Hanzo was one of the greatest and most well known ninjas that ever exsisted. In fact it's probably fair to say that much of today's concept of ninjas comes from the exploits of this man.

Hattori Hanzo was ninja serving Tokugawa Ieyasu in the 'Sengoku' or 'Warring States' period of Japan. Because he was a ninja much of his life is shrouded in mystery, but the parts we do know are amazing nonetheless. So deadly and sly was this shadow warrior that many believed him to have super powers including telepathy. His nickname was 'Devil Hanzo' and 'Hanzo the Ghost.'

It is said that at the age of 8 he was sent to train as a ninja on Mt. Kurama. By the age 12 he was considered a full ninja, and by 16 fought his first battle in a night attack on Udo castle. By age 18 he was considered a master ninja.

Tokugawa Ieyasu
Tokugawa Ieyasu

The Loyal Ninja

Hanzo was known for being extremely loyal to his lord Tokugawa Ieyasu and fought for him in countless battles and who knows how many secret cloak and dagger missions. Throughout his life he remained close to Ieyasu. There is a story that at one time Tokugawa Ieyasu grabbed Hattori Hanzo and pulled him in to a river with him. He pulled Hattori under water with him. After a short time Ieyasu had to come up for air and Hanzo calmly followed. Ieyasu got out of the water, dressed, and strapped his sword on while jokingly asking how long ninjas could hold their breath. Hanzo made a comment about one or two days and dived back in to the water. After several minutes Ieyasu and company started to worry and shouted for Hanzo. He then reappeared out of the water holding the very sword that Ieyasu had been dressed with. The crowd was shocked and thought he was truly magically. Hanzo laughed and told them that he had simply swam out of sight, climbed out of the water, and went to sleep behind a rock. When he heard them calling he returned. He apologized for taking the sword but reminded Ieyasu that he was a ninja.

The Battle of Mikatagahara
The Battle of Mikatagahara

The Battle of Mikatagahara

One known instance of his prowess was after the Battle of Mikatagahara. This battle had the Tokugawa clans attempting to drive the Takeda army out of their lands to keep them from getting to Oda Nobunaga's land. The Takeda army not only out numbered the Tokugawa army, but the Takeda army was led by the famous genius strategist Takeda Shingen and boasted the most feared cavalry in Japan. The Takeda army crushed the Tokugawa. During the retreat the army was spread out and Tokugawa Ieyasu barely escaped with his life. When Ieyasu returned to his castle he sent Hattori Hanzo and a small band of ninjas a special task. He sent them to attack the Takeda camp at night. Hanzo completed this mission with such efficiency and caused so much panic in the enemy camp that Takeda Shingen thought Oda Nobunaga or his rival Uesugi Kenshin had arrived with reinforcements. The Takeda pulled up camp and headed home instead of destroying the Tokugawa the next day.

The Incident at Hinno-Ji
The Incident at Hinno-Ji

The Incident at Hinno-Ji

Another shining moment in Hattori Hanzo's career was after the Incident at Hinno-Ji when Oda Nobunaga died. One of Oda Nobunaga's most trusted generals Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga. Akechi Mitsuhide sent men to capture Tokugawa Ieyasu and after learning of Nobunaga's death he barely escaped. Ieyasu was a long way from the safety of his own land and knew that all normal routes home would be guarded by Mitsuhide's men. However, they were close to the Iga ninja land where Hattori had allies. He left his master and went to request aid from the ninja clans. When the ninja agreed he sent a rocket in the air to signal the meeting place for the ninjas. Over 300 ninjas came to the aid of Ieyasu but Hattori Hanzo's request. They traveled for several days in secret the ninja way until he delivered Tokugawa Ieyasu safely home. Ieyasu was so impressed that he hired around two hundred of the ninjas to stay with him under the leadership of Hattori Hanzo. They would become known as the Ninjas of Iga. These ninjas were given the job of protecting the west gate of Ieyasu's castle which was the most susceptible of attack. The Imperial Palace in Japan today still has a Hanzo Gate.

The Legacy of Hattori Hanzo

After Tokugawa Ieyasu became the Shogun and ruler of Japan, Hattori Hanzo and his Ninjas of Iga remained at Ieyasu's side as palace guards. After Hattori Hanzo died in battle, his continued to lead the clan as palace guards. After Tokugawa completely isolated power and had no true enemies, many of the ninjas went separate ways, but the Hanzo clan continued to serve as guards for generations to come.

Hattori Hanzo's legacy still has it's place in popular culture through his character being in many video games and cinema. In the popular movies Kill Bill the legendary sword smith is named Hanzo Hattori because the actor that plays the sword smith also played Hattori Hanzo in another film. They said he was reprising the role. Although you might not be familiar with the name Hattori Hanzo, his life played a major impact on how we view ninjas today.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Oh, so Machiavelli and Malcolm X were secret Ninjas, since they lived by the mtnaras of The end justifies the means. and by any means necessary ? Of course, Malcolm X borrowed his famous slogan from the French intellectual Jean Paul Sartre from his play Dirty Hands. So maybe Malcolm X was wanna be ninja. Not that I'm knocking him. He was a very misunderstood man.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I want to be a ninja anyone can teach me please ..

      Name:muhammad shahrul hakimi bin yuszaimie.

      livin in; malaysia

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks haloback!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      6 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks travel man! Sounds like a fun story! Hahaha!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 

      6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I'm a fan of Ninja Stories. In fact, way back in high school, we made shurekin at our Metal Class shop that almost endanger the life of one of my classmates.

      Understanding the life of a ninja is equals to invoking discipline to one's existence, like what happened to the life of Hattori Hanzo.

      A very good read! Thanks for sharing!!!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

    Show Details
    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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    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)
    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.
    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)