Did the Ninjato Sword Really Exist Throughout History?

The existence of the Ninjato in feudal Japan is not certain due to lack of physical evidence. However, historians and experts believe that the Shinobi wielded a straight-bladed sword known as the Ninjato.

Also, those studying the history of the Shinobi discovered other weapons they used to accomplish their tasks.

When Did the Ninjato Appear?

There’s no physical evidence that can prove the first appearance of the Ninjato in the 16th to 19th centuries. The only reliable information available comes from the 20th century onwards,

In 1956, the first known photograph of the Ninjato was featured in Ninjutsu, a Japanese booklet by Heishichiro Okuse. The image shows a straight-bladed sword.

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In 1964, the Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum was established. It’s dedicated to the Shinobi and their history, so visitors will find ancient writings, tools, weapons, and other items. The museum also houses replicas of the Ninjato.

In the same year, the Ninjato also appeared in the movie Shinobi no Mono Kirigakure Saizo.

Years later, various films, books, and TV shows depict the Ninja wielding the Ninjato. The media describes it as a straight-bladed sword.

Usage of the Ninjato

Like its history, the usage of the Ninjato is theoretical since there is no historical proof of its existence. In films and on stage, the Ninjato can be seen with a straight and shorter blade compared to the Katana. Although its appearance is different, wielding the Ninjato was similar to that of the Katana.

In books and other written materials, there are several possible ways to learn how to use the Ninjato. These include fast drawing techniques that focus on drawing the sword and cutting as a simultaneous attacking or defensive action.

Together with the fast drawing techniques, the wielder would also perform a reverse grip or a thrust fencing technique.

red ninjato

For the Saya of the Ninjato, it was often said that it had different purposes. Some used it as a respiration pipe when snorkeling. Others used it to overhear conversations when spying.

It was quite longer than the blade of the Ninjato since the Shinobi kept various objects like chemicals for blinding enemies.

What is the History of the Ninjato?

The history of the Ninjato is unknown since no proof of its existence has been found. In fact, any evidence of the straight-bladed Ninja sword before the Edo period is non-existent. The history of the Ninjato can only be reliably archived from the 20th century until the present.

Because of the way of living of the Shinobi, only a few genuine resources and documents were obtained. Even their weapons cannot be accurately determined since they kept their identity hidden as much as possible. Unlike the Samurai, they do not have a lot of available information about themselves nor their weapons.

Ninja Swords

The existence of the Ninjato in feudal Japan remains unclear. Aside from the sword itself, its elements are also a mystery. While it’s a fact that they utilized a sword to accomplish their tasks, it’s unknown whether these were called “Ninjato”.

The Ninjato or Ninja swords were all created during the Edo period. However, the earlier period when they started isn’t determined. This is the complete opposite of the Samurai whose swords featured characters that stated the clan they belonged to.

Accounts of the History of the Ninjato from the 20th Century

Several historical accounts show the existence of the Ninjato. However, these were only from the 20th century.

In 1956, the first known photo of a Ninja sword was featured in Ninjutsu, a booklet by Heishichiro Okuse. It was referred to as the Ninjato, and the image showed a straight-bladed sword.


In 1964, the Ninja Museum of Iga-Ryu was established. In the museum, replicas of the straight-bladed swords used by the Shinobi in feudal Japan were displayed.

In the same year, the fourth and fifth entries of the Japanese historical movie series, Shinobi no Mono, were shown. The Ninjato also appeared in these movies.

Aside from the Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum, the Koka Ninja Village Museum and Gifu Castle Archives Museum also display the Ninjato along with other ninja weapons.

In 1973, the ads in the American magazine Black Belt sold imported and newly manufactured Ninjato. In 1975 and 1981, books by Masaaki Hatsumi and Stephen K. Hayes were published. These books reference the Ninja sword.

The first Hollywood film featuring the Ninjato was shown in 1983.

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