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Hattori Hanzo (服部 半蔵, ~1542 – December 23, 1596), also known as Hattori Masanari (服部 正成), was a famous samurai and shinobi of the Sengoku era, credited with saving the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu and then helping him to become the ruler of united Japan. 

 

The history of Japanese ninjutsu most often refers to Hattori Hanzo as the most successful jonin of the Iga-gumi organization, also known as Watanabe Hanzo and Yari no Hanzo.  Hanzo gained his greatest fame of the time of Honnji no Hen incident in the June of 1582 Togugawa Ieyasu, later to become the shogun to unify all of Japan.  The Iga Ryu Ninja died at 55 in 1596.

 

Sandayu Momochi - Legend tells that Sandayu was the teacher of Ishikawa Goeman (the famous bandit ninja hero in feudal Japan).  Sandayu is also known as one of the founders of the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu; though there are few recorded details concerning his life.  There are many theories about his true identity.  Some historians believe that he is the same person as jonin Momchi Tanbe Yasumitsu, but this cannot be verified.  Yet another theory is that he was the same person as Fujibayashi Nagato.  Sandayu is said to be killed in the battle of Tensho Iga No Ran.

FujibayashiNagato - Legend has it that Fujibayashi Nagato was the head of Iga Ryu Ninjutsu along with Momchi Tanba.  Fujibayashi was not known to have played a major role in the battle of Tensho Iga No Ran, in which Iga was divided by Oda Nobunaga’s troops in 1581, and there is no information on him in the Iranki Volume (history of the Tensho Iga No Ran battle).  Fujibayashi is thought OT be related Iga Ryu Ninjutsu family.

Fuma Kotaro - Born in Sagami Prefecture, Kotaro was the fifth generation jonin head of the Fuma Ryu Ninjutsu.  He and his 200 followers, called the rappa and the suppa (“battle disrupters”), worked as a gurella band in support of Odawara’s Hojo family.  Fuma Kotaro’s most famous battle was in the march of 1581, when the massive troops of Takeda Shingen’s son Katsuyori attacked the Hojo stronghold.  Takeda set up his fortress in Ukishimagahara, and the Hojo set up camp across from the Osegawa River and attacked the Takeda troops several times at night, and drove the Takeda camp into disorder with their ninja tactics.

Ishikawa Goemon – Though none of the ninja families of Iga and Koga would call him one of their own because of his reputation for using ninjutsu to aid him in stealing for his own personal gain.  No history in Japanese ninja names would be complete without that of Ishikawa Goeman.  There are many theories of where he was born, but no concrete information.  Three popular theories regarding Goeman's birthplace include Hamamatsu in Edo, Oshu’s Shirakawa, or Ishikawa Village in Iga Province.

 

Thought to have originally been a genin agent of the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu, Goeman was killed in on August 24,1594,the legends claiming that he was boiled to death in oil.  Though Ishikawa Goeman’s name is not listed in the bansenshukai written records of the Iga Ryu Ninjutsu, the notorious bandit hero appears often in the world of novels and theater as the greatest thief in the history of Japan.

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Tomo Sukesada – (Jonin Shinobi of the Tomo Ryu tradition) Tokugawa employed a group of eighty Kōga ninja, led by Tomo Sukesada. They were tasked to raid an outpost of the Imagawa clan. The account of this assault is given in the Mikawa Go Fudoki, where it was written that Tomo Ryo Shinobi of Kōga infiltrated the castle, set fire to its towers, and killed the castellan along with two hundred of the garrison. 

 

In short the Tomo Ryu Shinobi led by Tomo Sukesada carried out a classic ninja raid under cover of darkness.  The Mikawa Go-Fudo-ki account, however; adds some interesting points of detail. 

 

For more information on this raid by the Tomo Ryu; see

“Ninja – a True story of Japan’s Secret Warrior Cult

By Stephen Turnbull. 

(index page 159; under tomo ninja family; page 35)

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