When Did the Shinobi Use the First Ninjato?

The first use of the Ninjato is unknown since there’s no existing evidence that it existed in feudal Japan. There is insufficient evidence to prove that the Shinobi used this sword from the Sengoku Period until the Edo Period.

History of the Ninjato

It’s difficult to match the description of a Ninjato based on history. It’s due to the lack of physical evidence from the past.

There were no actual swords retrieved from the Sengoku era throughout the Edo period. This is the reason why the Ninjato can only be chronicled from the 20th century onwards.

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Earliest Known Presence of the Ninjato

The very first known image of a straight-bladed sword was in the year 1956. It was featured in a Japanese booklet that has a total of 26 pages. This booklet was the Ninjutsu by Okuse Heishichirou.

In 1964, a museum for the Iga clan appeared. It was the Ninja Museum of Igaryu which kept the replicas of the so-called Shinobi Ninjato. Also in the same year, the Ninjato appeared in two movies.

These were Shinobi no Mono Zoku Kirigakure Saizou and Shinobi no Mono Kirigakure Saizou. The swords also appeared in the 4th and 5th entries in the Jidaigeki movie series called Shinobi no Mono, released in movie theaters in the country.

In 1973, ads that sold newly imported and manufactured Ninjato appeared in the magazine called Black Belt. Books referencing the sword appeared in 1981.


The year 1983 showcased the first Hollywood film that featured the Ninjato. It was the Revenge of the Ninja, which was a movie released in theaters. 1984 was the year that offered us the first American TV production that featured the swords. It was The Master, broadcasted on NBC.

With this, the actual history of the Ninjato may always stay as a mystery. And like what the last known Shinobi grandmaster said, the art of Ninjutsu will vanish along with his death. His name is Kawakami Jin, and he claims that the art of the Shinobi does not suit the current period.

What are the Myths About the Ninjato?

The Ninjato is commonly seen in books, movies, and shows. However, there are a few myths about its history and use. Ever since the Ninja became popular in the 1980s, a lot of people have accepted that they carry the Ninjato sword.

How the Ninjato Was Worn

It was believed that the Shinobi carried his sword diagonally and placed this across his back. This was not like how a Samurai warrior carried his sword, which was tucked in his Obi.

Although it’s common to see a Shinobi carrying the Ninjato on their backs in various depictions, it’s historically inaccurate. Wearing any sword this way would be harmful to the wielder.

Since the Shinobi performed espionage, they had to escape through tight and narrow spaces, climb tree limbs, or rafters. If the sword protruded from their back, it would pose as a deadly obstruction for adequate stealth.

There were also instances when the Shinobi would roll on the ground to escape the enemy. If they had the sword on their back, it would be troublesome to execute these movements during their missions.


It Was Only the Weapon Used by the Shinobi

Most people believe that the Shinobi only used low-quality Ninjato. They also thought that they could not afford swords like the japanese Katana or the Wakizashi. However, a lot of historians believe that the Shinobi also used these Samurai swords when necessary, especially when in disguise.

While there is no evidence that the Shinobi used the Katana or Wakizashi, they used other unique weapons. These include the Kusarigama, Shuriken, Kunai, Tanto, and a lot more.

History of the Ninjato

Since the existence of the Ninjato in feudal Japan lacks evidence, it is believed to be a mythical or legendary sword. However, several sources show the straight-bladed Ninja swords. TV shows, films, and books after the 20th century also present the Shinobi wielding the Ninjato.

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