5 Facts You Didn't Know About Ninjas

Ninjas are the subject of much popular lore in both Japan and the United States. The things we think we know, however, about ninjas are often very incorrect. For instance, did you know that ninjas almost never fight ancient demons to save the human race? And that not a single ninja has ever surfed? And there are plenty more interesting tid bits as well. Like:

 

Ninjas Didn't Really Wear Ninja Outfits

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As cool as the ninja outfits in Ninja Gaiden look, in reality ninjas didn't have an "outfit." They wore whatever clothes anyone else would wear at the time. What we think of as ninja outfits were actually all-black clothes that stage hands in Kabuki theater wore to not be seen during performances. When Kabuki theaters began to put on performances about ninjas in the 1800's they made the ninja characters wear the stage hand outfits because they looked stealthy, and to save money on buying regular costumes. So when you wear a "ninja outfit" you're basically dressing like the interns of ancient Japan.

 

Ninjas Were Not Respected

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Though today we think of ninjas as being respected warriors with a high status in Japanese society the fact is they were seen more as garbage men. Worse than garbage men, they did the jobs that nobody else wanted to do. Killing people covertly was seen as dishonorable and ninjas were often treated like untouchables are in India: necessary but shunned. But, I mean, I get it, think how you would feel about the guy that picked up your garbage every day if you knew that he had secretly murdered your neighbor.

 

The Two Main Ninja Costumes: Buddhist Monk And Candy Salesmen

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Ninjas were experts at disguise, and cleverly the tended to disguise themselves most often as regular folk to blend in. Apparently most regular folk in Ancient Japan were either monks or those annoying kids who stand outside the supermarket and try to get you buy chocolate so they can go to basketball camp.

 

The Main Source Of Ninja Nutrition: Cookies

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When traveling ninjas pretty much exclusively feasted on "katayaki", a dense, calorie-filled cookie. So if you are ever alone in the woods in Ancient Japan and you suddenly heard satisfied munching noises along with, "Damnit, oatmeal raisin, my shogun knows I don't like oatmeal raisin," run. Run as fast as you can.

 

Ninjas Abstained from Garlic And Beans Before Missions

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It was important to ninjas in the Edo period to make sure not to eat food that would make them produce rank odors that might get them detected in the midst of a mission. Apparently, the most embarrassing way a ninja could be detected was by leaping through the air with their sword raised and farting just before they landed a blow.

 

What other ninja facts don't most people know? Let us know in the comments!

 

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