This is a book of old matters concerning ninjutsu. It is truly a fundamental manual guide for the military strategist. It deals with advancement and retreat, advantage and disadvantage. One who is a warrior has to learn it without neglect.



Written by Kishu official, Katsuda Nangu Saiyoshin.

9th year of Enpo (1681), crescent moon, early Autumn.

The Tradition's (ryu) Shoninki

Although ninjutsu existed in Japan since ancient times, it was revealed during the Genpei War (1180-85) when Gen Kuro Yoshitsune selected brave warriors and employed them in battle. In the Kenmu period (1333-36) Kusonoki Masashige used ninjutsu countless times. Among recent generations, Hojo Ujiyasu have employed the nusubito Kazama to go out to various places in the provinces to investigate matters. Takeda Shingen of Kai province have employed people called suppa. These people as well, were nusubito from that province.

*The word nusubito means a thief and is often used in this text. However, nusubito is a pejorative term for those employing ninjutsu, or ninja.

*This refers to Ise no Saburo Yoshimori and his band. Yoshimori was born in Iga province and was a mountain brigand in Suzuka.

*Kazama's full name was Fuma Kotaro. He was born in Kazama in Ashigara Shimo-gun, Sagami province. The exact dates of his birth and death are unknown.

Later, this was transmitted to Koga in Iga, and became the common system of that county. Then, ninjutsu spread to other provinces and is now countrywide.

Involvement in ninjutsu is therefore a universal committment. If I go to another province, the person of that province will show me his province. When that person comes, I will inform him about the secrets of the place, and reveal the house sectrets to him, thus employing the marvelous tenets of this method.

*The cooperation among those employing ninjutsu, to which the author refers in this section, is most likely limited to those from among the Kishu tradition.

However, as to why following generations will not recognize each other when they meet, this is because inside the house there is only one firebrand. As a way to confirm the person's identity, hold the firebrand so that you will not have doubts.

Furthermore, the Shoninki is the record of the lore of nusubito and is a family secret. As for the spread of ninjutsu, this generation it will become the house transmission of many nusubito families.

Types of Covert Soldiers
Five Types of Information Gatherers (gokan)


The aforementioned are five types of agents. One who acquires the essence of these types, and acts independently is called a shinobi. Or, when two or three people act as a group, they are called sonin. However, you should be aware of the one who is not a specialist. In the past too, it was difficult to act in a large group. Even among many able warriors, they operated individually.

Now, young people engage in covert activity in groups of two to three persons. This matter should be evaluated. Therefore, it is a matter of understanding the employment of an army.

The meaning of tokan was first revealed during the reign of the Yellow Emperor (Jp. Kotei). Then, in the saden the shinobi is called cho. Later, the shinobi is called saisaku. It is said that a person in the service of the King of To secretly entered the King of Jo's residence and killed him. Also, it is said that Sonwu, a retainer of the King of Wu, used the five types of information gatherers (kan) to plan an attack on the enemy.

Five Types of Information Gatherers (kan)

That is, locals who gather information by carefully hearing matters. It is said that this is similar to dakko in Japan.

That is, friendly enemy officials whom we employ. Their work is important.

Such officials are also employed by the enemy. Therefore, we also recruit and employ them. In Japan too, this method is employed but discretion must be exercised at all times.

Hantoku-no-kan ("double agent")
That is, using enemy agents as our own agents. We sympathize with them and treat them lavishly. In Japan they are called turned-over agents.

These are enemy agents whom we provide with [false] information....

Shicho-no-kan ("expandable agent")

That is, those who have a strong sense of gratitude towards us, whom we provide with useless information.

That is, they covertly infiltrate the enemy in order to gather information.

The aforementioned are the five types of information gatherers (gokan). The term gokan is also used in Japan. [However], even without this term the principle is similar.

This is the method of talking to local residents when we need to know about the locality. It's best to befriend any of the local residents in order to get information about that province. This is called questioning the locals.

It is also said that long ago Sasaki Saburo Moritsuna inquired

with the local men learning about a shallow river crossing, and presented them with the Shirasayamki sword. This is called employing kyodo.

This is not deep infiltration into a territory, [rather] understanding the principle by listening from the outside. For example, even without going to the place, learning about the state-of-affairs and then coming back, thus knowing [things] ahead of time.

However, do not rely on false information, be judgmental.

This is the Japanese kanja. [The ninja], always without questioning [the difficulty], operates regardless of whether its day or night. It is similar to nusubito, but the shinobi-no-mono does not still. [The shinobi-no-mono] gathers information even if the place is difficult to reach. Even if there isnユt a road [the shinobi-no-mono] will return with information.

This is a specialist of stealth. That is to say, these are the ultimate skills.

This is a person without moral standards who does not understand right and wrong. [The nusubito] is indiscrete. For example, like a deer hunter who does not see a mountain, [the nusubito] disregards life when he stills from a place. This should not be called skillful means.