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Inside the Ninja House

Updated on February 1, 2011

Today, ninja houses in Japan count among the most attractive tourist destinations of the country. They have been moved from their original places and rebuilt as tourist attraction. Not surprisingly, they look like ninja homes with various hiding places and trap-doors built in, but can we trust their authenticity?

It stands to reason that an infamous shonin, who was well-aware of the various techniques of infiltration and assassination employed by his own ninja, should put his knowledge to practical use, and turn his house into a super secure place to fend off potential attempts at his life. Their genuine fear for their life encouraged many powerful samurai lords to introduce well-authenticated features into their own homes and residences.

The most often employed features of building design were ones that allowed the secret and constant monitoring of visitors by the lord's guards, making it possible to overpower an assailant in seconds. 

A typical shonin house. Click to enlarge.
A typical shonin house. Click to enlarge.

Ninja House Illustration

The shonin's house in the ninja village is every bit as well-protected as the settlement itself. It is a thatched farmhouse, very cunningly designed. The ninja features added on to the basic-style Japanese cottage were intended as a defense against attempts at the shonin's life.

  1. A polished wooden corridor giving access to rooms floored with tatami, or straw mats.
  2. The shonin's reception room. Heavily guarded, with a secret bolt hole behind the hanging banner. A guard can eavesdrop conversations and, if necessary, intervene in seconds.
  3. A hidden underground passage. / A nasty booby-trap in the hallway with spikes beneath. An assailant may confuse them.
  4. A rotating staircase leading upstairs, pivoted so that it can snap shut.
  5. Windows on the upstairs plaster walls sometimes acting as gun-ports.
  6. The top floor is nearly invisible, with a trap-door through the thatch to the roof.

Security Features of the Ninja House

A removable floortile, near the sitting shonin's side when he held an audience, could easily hide a katana or wakisashi ready to be picked up by him.

Sliding panels, a common feature in Japanese homes, could be re-architectured to pivot around a central axis, allowing a man to disappear in an eye-blink.

Staircases could be built to fold away, causing confusion in the assailant.

An unexpected trap-door in a dark hallway could drop an attacker into a hidden pit on a row of poisoned spikes.

A vanishing staircase that could be immediately retracted by standing on the protruding end after climbing it could also trick any pursuer.

If you've heard about the otherwise well-known Nijo jinya in Kyoto, then you are familiar with the most exciting and most authentic example of an anti-ninja home. This house built near to Nijo castle was the home of Ogawa Nagatsuka, a former samurai and later a rice merchant. His anti-ninja devices were set up as very sensible fire precautions.

Real Ninja House - Amazing Video!

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    • mega1 profile image

      mega1 6 years ago

      Very nice! very entertaining video too!

    • Haunty profile image
      Author

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Thanks, mega1! :)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      How fiendish! Thanks for the elucidation!

    • melodyandes profile image

      melodyandes 5 years ago

      I want to be, Very interesting.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      This is so fun, Haunty! Some friends of mine actually took me to Nijo jinya in Kyoto. I thought the pink ninja uniforms the girl tour guides wore were ADORABLE!

    • profile image

      greg 3 years ago

      crocodile ate me brother

    • profile image

      haloman 3 years ago

      hello hello rambo

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      stone cold steve austin 3 years ago

      i was here, buy me some beer. Greg is a nice guy, stone cold is out go oscar and issaac

    • profile image

      meow 3 years ago

      meow

      meow

      meow

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