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Inside the Ninja House

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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!

Further Ninja Reading

  • Ninjutsu, Japanese Martial Art of Espionage
    Ninjutsu is the Japanese martial art of espionage, called the techniques of stealth or the arts of invisibility. Ninja were trained to infiltrate into enemy territory to spy on troops, arms,...
  • Ninja Training (Ninjutsu)
    Ninja were born, not made. Let me explain how. In fifteenth-century Japan, a number of samurai families, the ninja families, started developing certain skills in intelligence collection, camouflage warfare...
  • How to be a Ninja in Disguise
    Disguise and deception were the primary survival tools of a ninja. How to be a survivor as an undercover ninja depended on what kind of mission you were executing.
  • Ninja Costumes and Outfit
    The traditional ninja outfit is a full black head-to-toe costume, worn to disguise the ninja during secret night-time operations. By daylight he wore a casual attire to blend in with his surroundings.
  • Standard Ninja Equipment, Weapons and Tools
    The Ninja's primary weapon in battle was their traditional Japanese sword, the katana. The katana was used not only to strike the enemy, but also to stave off his attack. The katana was perfectly suited to...
  • Specialised Ninja Equipment and Gear
    The ninja could use a diverse array of specialized weapons and equipment under appropriate circumstances. The majority of these ninja tools appear in Bansen Shukai, a famed seventeenth-century ninja manual. ...
  • Iga & Koga: Homelands of Ninjutsu and the Ninja
    The Iga Province and the southern area of Omi Province, known as Koga, are today associated with the origins of ninjutsu and the ninja.
  • Life and Hierarchy in the Ninja Society
    The social structure within the ninja community of Iga Province was as rigid as you would expect in medieval Japan. The heads of samurai clans associated with ninja activity were called shonin and they sat at...


meow on November 06, 2013:




stone cold steve austin on November 06, 2013:

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

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haloman on November 06, 2013:

hello hello rambo

greg on November 06, 2013:

crocodile ate me brother

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on September 01, 2011:

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!

melodyandes on June 02, 2011:

I want to be, Very interesting.

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on February 18, 2011:

How fiendish! Thanks for the elucidation!

Haunty (author) from Hungary on January 25, 2011:

Thanks, mega1! :)

mega1 on January 25, 2011:

Very nice! very entertaining video too!

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