The Edo period or Tokugawa period is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country's 300 regional daimyō. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, "no more wars", popular enjoyment of arts and culture; the shogunate was established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 1868, after the fall of Edo. A revolution took place from the time of the Kamakura shogunate, which existed with the Tennō's court, to the Tokugawa, when the samurai became the unchallenged rulers in what historian Edwin O. Reischauer called a "centralized feudal" form of shogunate. Instrumental in the rise of the new-existing bakufu was Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main beneficiary of the achievements of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Powerful, Ieyasu profited by his transfer to the rich Kantō area.
He maintained two million koku of land, a new headquarters at Edo, a strategically situated castle town, had an additional two million koku of land and thirty-eight vassals under his control. After Hideyoshi's death, Ieyasu moved to seize control from the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu's victory over the western daimyō at the Battle of Sekigahara gave him control of all Japan, he abolished numerous enemy daimyō houses, reduced others, such as that of the Toyotomi, redistributed the spoils of war to his family and allies. Ieyasu still failed to achieve complete control of the western daimyō, but his assumption of the title of shōgun helped consolidate the alliance system. After further strengthening his power base, Ieyasu installed his son Hidetada as shōgun and himself as retired shōgun in 1605; the Toyotomi were still a significant threat, Ieyasu devoted the next decade to their eradication. In 1615, the Tokugawa army destroyed the Toyotomi stronghold at Osaka; the Tokugawa period brought 250 years of stability to Japan.
The political system evolved into what historians call bakuhan, a combination of the terms bakufu and han to describe the government and society of the period. In the bakuhan, the shōgun had national authority and the daimyō had regional authority; this represented a new unity in the feudal structure, which featured an large bureaucracy to administer the mixture of centralized and decentralized authorities. The Tokugawa became more powerful during their first century of rule: land redistribution gave them nearly seven million koku, control of the most important cities, a land assessment system reaping great revenues; the feudal hierarchy was completed by the various classes of daimyō. Closest to the Tokugawa house were the shinpan, or "related houses", they were twenty-three daimyō on the borders of Tokugawa lands. The shinpan held honorary titles and advisory posts in the bakufu; the second class of the hierarchy were the fudai, or "house daimyō", rewarded with lands close to the Tokugawa holdings for their faithful service.
By the 18th century, 145 fudai controlled the greatest assessed at 250,000 koku. Members of the fudai class staffed most of the major bakufu offices. Ninety-seven han formed the tozama, former opponents or new allies; the tozama were located on the peripheries of the archipelago and collectively controlled nearly ten million koku of productive land. Because the tozama were least trusted of the daimyō, they were the most cautiously managed and generously treated, although they were excluded from central government positions; the Tokugawa shogunate not only consolidated their control over a reunified Japan, they had unprecedented power over the emperor, the court, all daimyō and the religious orders. The emperor was held up as the ultimate source of political sanction for the shōgun, who ostensibly was the vassal of the imperial family; the Tokugawa helped the imperial family recapture its old glory by rebuilding its palaces and granting it new lands. To ensure a close tie between the imperial clan and the Tokugawa family, Ieyasu's granddaughter was made an imperial consort in 1619.
A code of laws was established to regulate the daimyō houses. The code encompassed private conduct, dress, types of weapons and numbers of troops allowed. Although the daimyō were not taxed per se, they were levied for contributions for military and logistical support and for such public works projects as castles, roads and palaces; the various regulations and levies not only strengthened the Tokugawa but depleted the wealth of the daimyō, thus weakening their threat to the central administration. The han, once military-centered domains, became mere local administrative units; the daimyō did have full administrative control over their territory and their complex systems of retainers and commoners. Loyalty was exacted from religious foundations greatly weakened by Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, through a variety of control mechanisms. Like Hideyoshi, Ieyasu encouraged foreign trade but was suspicious of outsiders, he wanted to make Edo a major port, but once he learned that the Europeans favored ports in Kyūshū and that China had rejected his plans for official trade, he moved to control existing trade
Onna-bugeisha was a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese nobility. These women engaged in battle alongside samurai men, they were members of the bushi class in feudal Japan and were trained in the use of weapons to protect their household and honour in times of war. Significant icons such as Tomoe Gozen, Nakano Takeko, Hōjō Masako are famous examples of onna-bugeisha. Long before the emergence of the renowned samurai class, Japanese fighters were trained to wield a sword and spear. Women learned to use naginata and the art of tantojutsu in battle; such training ensured protection in communities. One such woman known as Empress Jingū, used her skills to inspire economic and social change, she was recognized as the onna bugeisha who led an invasion of Korea in 200 AD after her husband Emperor Chūai, the fourteenth emperor of Japan, was slain in battle. According to the legend, she miraculously led a Japanese conquest of Korea without shedding a drop of blood. Despite controversies surrounding her existence and her accomplishments, she was an example of the onna bugeisha in its entirety.
Years after her death, Jingū was able to transcend the socioeconomic structures that were instilled in Japan. In 1881, Empress Jingū became the first woman to be featured on a Japanese banknote. Designed to stop counterfeiting, her image was printed on oblong paper. During the earlier Heian and Kamakura periods, women who were prominent on the battlefield were the exception rather than the rule. Japanese ideals of femininity predisposed most women to powerlessness, in conflict with a female warrior role; the Genpei War marked the war between the Minamoto clans. The epic The Tale of the Heike was composed in the early 13th century in order to commemorate the stories of courageous and devoted samurai. Among those was Tomoe Gozen, servant of Minamoto no Yoshinaka of the Minamoto clan, she assisted Yoshinaka in defending himself against the forces of his cousin, Minamoto no Yoritomo during the Battle of Awazu on February 21, 1184. In The Tale of the Heike, written at the beginning of 14th century, she was described:... beautiful, with white skin, long hair, charming features.
She was a remarkably strong archer, as a swords-woman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, a mighty bow. Although she was not proven to be a historical figure, Tomoe Gozen has impacted much of the warrior class, including many traditional Naginata schools, her actions in battle received much attention in the arts plays such as Tomoe no Monogatari and various ukiyo-e. As time passed, the influence of onna-bugeisha saw its way from paintings to politics. After the Heike were thwarted towards the western provinces of Japan, the Kamakura shogunate was soon established under the rule of Minamoto no Yoritomo. After he passed, his wife, Hōjō Masako, acting in the early years of the Hōjō regency, became the first onna-bugeisha to be a prominent player in politics. Masako became a Buddhist nun, a traditional fate of samurai widows, continued her involvement in politics, influencing the fates of her sons Minamoto no Yoriie and Minamoto no Sanetomo, the second and third shōgun, of the Hōjō faction at the shōguns' court.
Through the collective efforts of Masako and a few political puppets, laws governing the shōgun's court in the early 13th century allowed women equal rights of inheritance with fraternal kin. Though the primary role of women in ancient Japan continued to be the support to their family and their husbands, they acquired a higher status in the household; these laws allowed Japanese women to control finances, bequeath property, maintain their homes, manage servants, raise their children with proper, samurai upbringing. Japanese women were expected to defend their homes in times of war; because of the influence of Edo neo-Confucianism, the status of the onna-bugeisha diminished significantly. The function of onna-bugeisha changed in addition to their husbands. Samurai were no longer concerned with battles and war, they were bureaucrats. Women daughters of most upper class households, were soon pawns to dreams of success and power; the roaring ideals of fearless devotion and selflessness were replaced by quiet, civil obedience.
Travel unsettling for many female samurai. They always had to be accompanied by a man. Additionally, they had to possess specific permits. Samurai women received much harassment from officials who manned inspection checkpoints; the onset of the 17th century marked a significant transformation in the social acceptance of women in Japan. Many samurai viewed women purely as child bearers; the relationship between a husband and wife could be correlated to that of his vassal. "Husbands and wives did not customarily sleep together. The husband would visit his wife to initiate any sexual activity and afterwards would retire to his own room". In 1868, during the Battle of Aizu, a part of the Boshin War, Nakano Takeko, a member of the Aizu clan, was
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside katakana; the Japanese term kanji for the Chinese characters means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters in the Chinese language to refer to the character writing system, hanzi. Chinese characters first came to Japan on official seals, swords, coins and other decorative items imported from China; the earliest known instance of such an import was the King of Na gold seal given by Emperor Guangwu of Han to a Yamato emissary in 57 AD. Chinese coins from the first century AD have been found in Yayoi period archaeological sites. However, the Japanese of that era had no comprehension of the script, would remain illiterate until the fifth century AD. According to the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, a semi-legendary scholar called Wani was dispatched to Japan by the Kingdom of Baekje during the reign of Emperor Ōjin in the early fifth century, bringing with him knowledge of Confucianism and Chinese characters.
The earliest Japanese documents were written by bilingual Chinese or Korean officials employed at the Yamato court. For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to Emperor Shun of Liu Song in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Groups of people called fuhito were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. During the reign of Empress Suiko, the Yamato court began sending full-scale diplomatic missions to China, which resulted in a large increase in Chinese literacy at the Japanese court. In ancient times paper was so rare that people stenciled kanji onto thin, rectangular strips of wood; these wooden boards were used for communication between government offices, tags for goods transported between various countries, the practice of writing. The oldest written kanji in Japan discovered so far was written in ink on wood as a wooden strip dated to the 7th century, it is a record of trading for salt. The Japanese language had no written form at the time Chinese characters were introduced, texts were written and read only in Chinese.
During the Heian period, however, a system known as kanbun emerged, which involved using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to restructure and read Chinese sentences, by changing word order and adding particles and verb endings, in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar. Chinese characters came to be used to write Japanese words, resulting in the modern kana syllabaries. Around 650 AD, a writing system called man'yōgana evolved that used a number of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning. Man'yōgana written in cursive style evolved into hiragana, or onna-de, that is, "ladies' hand," a writing system, accessible to women. Major works of Heian-era literature by women were written in hiragana. Katakana emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified man'yōgana to a single constituent element, thus the two other writing systems and katakana, referred to collectively as kana, are descended from kanji. In comparison to kana kanji are called mana.
In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language such as nouns, adjective stems, verb stems, while hiragana are used to write inflected verb and adjective endings and as phonetic complements to disambiguate readings and miscellaneous words which have no kanji or whose kanji is considered obscure or too difficult to read or remember. Katakana are used for representing onomatopoeia, non-Japanese loanwords, the names of plants and animals, for emphasis on certain words. In 1946, after World War II and under the Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese government, guided by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, instituted a series of orthographic reforms, to help children learn and to simplify kanji use in literature and periodicals; the number of characters in circulation was reduced, formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called shinjitai. Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were discouraged.
These are guidelines, so many characters outside these standards are still known and used. The kyōiku kanji are 1,006 characters; the list only contained 881 characters. This was expanded to 996 characters in 1977, it was not until 1982 the list was expanded to its current size. The grade-level breakdown of these kanji is known as the gakunen-betsu kanji haitōhyō, or the gakushū kanji; the jōyō kanji are 2,136 characters consisting of all the Kyōiku kanji, plus 1,130 additional kanji taught in junior high and high school. In publishing, characters outside this category are given furigana; the jōyō kanji were introduced in 1981, replacing an older list of 1,850 characters known as the tōyō kanji, introduced in 1946. Numbering 1,945 characters, the jōyō kanji list was extended to 2,136 in 2010; some of the new characters were Jinmeiyō kanji. Since September 27, 2004, the jinmeiyō k
Katakana is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji and in some cases the Latin script. The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana characters are derived from components or fragments of more complex kanji. Katakana and hiragana are both kana systems. With one or two minor exceptions, each syllable in the Japanese language is represented by one character or kana, in each system; each kana represents either a vowel such as "a". In contrast to the hiragana syllabary, used for Japanese words not covered by kanji and for grammatical inflections, the katakana syllabary usage is quite similar to italics in English. Katakana are characterized by sharp corners. There are two main systems of ordering katakana: the old-fashioned iroha ordering and the more prevalent gojūon ordering; the complete katakana script consists of 48 characters, not counting functional and diacritic marks: 5 nucleus vowels 42 core or body syllabograms, consisting of nine consonants in combination with each of the five vowels, of which three possible combinations are not canonical 1 coda consonantThese are conceived as a 5×10 grid, as shown in the adjacent table, read ア, イ, ウ, エ, オ, カ, キ, ク, ケ, コ and so on.
The gojūon inherits its consonant order from Sanskrit practice. In vertical text contexts, which used to be the default case, the grid is presented as 10 columns by 5 rows, with vowels on the right hand side and ア on top. Katakana glyphs in the same row or column do not share common graphic characteristics. Three of the syllabograms to be expected, yi, ye and wu, may have been used idiosyncratically with varying glyphs, but never became conventional in any language and are not present at all in modern Japanese; the 50-sound table is amended with an extra character, the nasal stop ン. This can appear in several positions, most next to the N signs or, because it developed from one of many mu hentaigana, below the u column, it may be appended to the vowel row or the a column. Here, it is shown in a table of its own; the script includes two diacritic marks placed at the upper right of the base character that change the initial sound of a syllabogram. A double dot, called dakuten, indicates a primary alteration.
Secondary alteration, where possible, is shown by a circular handakuten: h→p. Diacritics, though used for over a thousand years, only became mandatory in the Japanese writing system in the second half of the 20th century, their application is limited in proper writing systems, but may be more extensive in academic transcriptions. Furthermore, some characters may have special semantics when used in smaller size after a normal one, but this does not make the script bicameral; the layout of the gojūon table promotes a systematic view of kana syllabograms as being always pronounced with the same single consonant followed by a vowel, but this is not the case. Existing schemes for the romanization of Japanese either are based on the systematic nature of the script, e.g. nihon-siki チ ti, or they apply some Western graphotactics the English one, to the common Japanese pronunciation of the kana signs, e.g. Hepburn-shiki チ chi. Both approaches conceal the fact, that many consonant-based katakana signs those canonically ending in u, can be used in coda position, where the vowel is unvoiced and therefore perceptible.
Of the 48 katakana syllabograms described above, only 46 are used in modern Japanese, one of these is preserved for only a single use: wi and we are pronounced as vowels in modern Japanese and are therefore obsolete, being supplanted by i and e respectively. Wo is now used only as a particle, is pronounced the same as vowel オ o; as a particle, it is written in hiragana and the katakana form, ヲ, is uncommon. A small version of the katakana for ya, yu or yo may be added to katakana ending in i; this changes the i vowel sound to a glide to a, u or o, e.g. キャ /kja/. Addition of the small y kana is called yōon. Small versions of the five vowel kana are sometimes used to represent trailing off sounds, but in katakana they are more used in yōon-like extended digraphs designed to represent phonemes not present in Japanese. A character called a sokuon, visually identical to a small tsu ッ, indicates that the following consonant is geminated. In Japanese this is an important distinction in pronunciation.
Geminated consonants are common in transliterations of foreign loanwords. The sokuon sometimes appe
Manga are comics or graphic novels created in Japan or by creators in the Japanese language, conforming to a style developed in Japan in the late 19th century. They have a complex pre-history in earlier Japanese art; the term manga in Japan is a word used to refer to cartooning. "Manga" as a term used outside Japan refers to comics published in Japan. In Japan, people of all ages read manga; the medium includes works in a broad range of genres: action, adventure and commerce, detective, historical, mystery, science fiction and fantasy, erotica and games, suspense, among others. Many manga are translated into other languages. Since the 1950s, manga has become a major part of the Japanese publishing industry. By 1995, the manga market in Japan was valued at ¥586.4 billion, with annual sales of 1.9 billion manga books and manga magazines in Japan. Manga have gained a significant worldwide audience. In 2008, in the U. S. and Canada, the manga market was valued at $175 million. Manga represent 38% of the French comics market, equivalent to ten times that of the United States.
In France, the manga market was valued at about €460 million in 2005. In Europe and the Middle East, the market was valued at $250 million in 2012. Manga stories are printed in black-and-white, although some full-color manga exist. In Japan, manga are serialized in large manga magazines containing many stories, each presented in a single episode to be continued in the next issue. Collected chapters are republished in tankōbon volumes but not paperback books. A manga artist works with a few assistants in a small studio and is associated with a creative editor from a commercial publishing company. If a manga series is popular enough, it may be animated during its run. Sometimes manga are drawn centering on existing live-action or animated films. Manga-influenced comics, among original works, exist in other parts of the world in Algeria, Hong Kong and South Korea; the word "manga" comes from the Japanese word 漫画, composed of the two kanji 漫 meaning "whimsical or impromptu" and 画 meaning "pictures".
The same term is the root of the Korean word for the Chinese word. The word first came into common usage in the late 18th century with the publication of such works as Santō Kyōden's picturebook Shiji no yukikai, in the early 19th century with such works as Aikawa Minwa's Manga hyakujo and the celebrated Hokusai Manga books containing assorted drawings from the sketchbooks of the famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. Rakuten Kitazawa first used the word "manga" in the modern sense. In Japanese, "manga" refers to all kinds of cartooning and animation. Among English speakers, "manga" has the stricter meaning of "Japanese comics", in parallel to the usage of "anime" in and outside Japan; the term "ani-manga" is used to describe comics produced from animation cels. The history of manga is said to originate from scrolls dating back to the 12th century, it is believed they represent the basis for the right-to-left reading style. During the Edo period, Toba Ehon embedded the concept of manga; the word itself first came into common usage in 1798, with the publication of works such as Santō Kyōden's picturebook Shiji no yukikai, in the early 19th century with such works as Aikawa Minwa's Manga hyakujo and the Hokusai Manga books.
Adam L. Kern has suggested that kibyoshi, picture books from the late 18th century, may have been the world's first comic books; these graphical narratives share with modern manga humorous and romantic themes. Some works were mass-produced as serials using woodblock printing. Writers on manga history have described two complementary processes shaping modern manga. One view represented by other writers such as Frederik L. Schodt, Kinko Ito, Adam L. Kern, stress continuity of Japanese cultural and aesthetic traditions, including pre-war and pre-Meiji culture and art; the other view, emphasizes events occurring during and after the Allied occupation of Japan, stresses U. S. cultural influences, including U. S. comics and images and themes from U. S. television and cartoons. Regardless of its source, an explosion of artistic creativity occurred in the post-war period, involving manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka and Machiko Hasegawa. Astro Boy became immensely popular in Japan and elsewhere, the anime adaptation of Sazae-san drawing more viewers than any other anime on Japanese television in 2011.
Tezuka and Hasegawa both made stylistic innovations. In Tezuka's "cinematographic" technique, the panels are like a motion picture that reveals details of action bordering on slow motion as well as rapid zooms from distance to close-up shots; this kind of visual dynamism was adopted by manga artists. Hasegawa's focus on daily life and on women's experience came to characterize shōjo manga. Between 1950 and 1969, an large readership for manga emerged in Japan with the solidification of its two main marketing genres, shōnen manga aimed at boys and shōjo manga aimed at girls. In 1969 a group of female manga artists made their shōjo manga debut ("year 24" comes from the Japanese name for the year 1949, the
Cursive script (East Asia)
Cursive script mistranslated as grass script, is a script style used in Chinese and East Asian calligraphy. Cursive script is faster to write than other styles, but difficult to read for those unfamiliar with it, it functions as a kind of shorthand script or calligraphic style. People who can read standard or printed forms of Chinese or related scripts may not be able to comprehend this script; the character 書 means script in this context, the character 草 means quick, rough or sloppy. Thus, the name of this script is "rough script" or "sloppy script"; the same character 草 appears in this sense in the noun "rough draft", the verb "to draft ". The other indirectly related meaning of the character 草 is grass, which has led to the mistranslation "grass script". Cursive script originated in China during the Han dynasty in two phases. First, an early form of cursive developed as a cursory way to write the popular and not-yet-mature clerical script. Faster ways to write characters developed through four mechanisms: omitting part of a graph, merging strokes together, replacing portions with abbreviated forms, or modifying stroke styles.
This evolution can best be seen on extant bamboo and wooden slats from the period, on which the use of early cursive and immature clerical forms is intermingled. This early form of cursive script, based on clerical script, is now called zhāngcǎo, variously termed ancient cursive, draft cursive or clerical cursive in English, to differentiate it from modern cursive. Modern cursive evolved from this older cursive in the Wei Kingdom to Jin dynasty with influence from the semi-cursive and standard styles. Beside zhāngcǎo and the "modern cursive", there is the "wild cursive", more cursive and difficult to read; when it was developed by Zhang Xu and Huaisu in the Tang dynasty, they were called Diān Zhāng Zuì Sù. Cursive, in this style, is no longer significant in legibility but rather in artistry. Cursive scripts can be divided into the unconnected style where each character is separate, the connected style where each character is connected to the succeeding one. Many of the simplified Chinese characters are modeled on the printed forms of the cursive forms of the corresponding characters.
Cursive script forms of Chinese characters are the origin of the Japanese hiragana script. The hiragana characters developed from cursive forms of the man'yōgana script, called sōgana. In Japan, the sōgana cursive script was considered to be suitable for women's writing, thus came to be referred to as women’s script; this term was applied to hiragana, as well. In contrast, kanji themselves were referred to as men’s script; the Art of Japanese Calligraphy, 1973, author Yujiro Nakata, publisher Weatherhill/Heibonsha, ISBN 0-8348-1013-1. Qiu Xigui Chinese Writing. Translation of 文字學概要 by Gilbert L. Mattos and Jerry Norman. Early China Special Monograph Series No. 4. Berkeley: The Society for the Study of Early China and the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. ISBN 1-55729-071-7. Cursive script/grass script calligraphy generator
A ninja or shinobi was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan. The functions of a ninja included espionage, infiltration and guerrilla warfare, their covert methods of waging irregular warfare were deemed dishonorable and beneath the honor of the samurai. Though shinobi proper, as specially trained spies and mercenaries, appeared in the 15th century during the Sengoku period, antecedents may have existed as early as the 12th century. In the unrest of the Sengoku period and spies for hire became active in Iga Province and the adjacent area around the village of Kōga, it is from the area's clans that much of our knowledge of the ninja is drawn. Following the unification of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century, the ninja faded into obscurity. A number of shinobi manuals based on Chinese military philosophy, were written in the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably the Bansenshukai. By the time of the Meiji Restoration, shinobi had become a topic of popular imagination and mystery in Japan.
Ninjas figured prominently in legend and folklore, where they were associated with legendary abilities such as invisibility, walking on water and control over the natural elements. As a consequence, their perception in popular culture is based more on such legend and folklore than on the spies of the Sengoku period. Ninja is an on'yomi reading of the two kanji "忍者". In the native kun'yomi kanji reading, it is pronounced shinobi, a shortened form of the transcription shinobi-no-mono; the word shinobi appears in the written record as far back as the late 8th century in poems in the Man'yōshū. The underlying connotation of shinobi means "to steal away. Mono means "a person"; the word ninja was not in common use, a variety of regional colloquialisms evolved to describe what would be dubbed ninja. Along with shinobi, some examples include monomi, rappa and Iga-mono. In historical documents, shinobi is always used. Kunoichi, (くノ一） is an argot which means "woman" came from the characters くノ一, which make up the three strokes that form the kanji for "woman".
In fictions written in the modern era, Kunoichi means "female ninja",In the West, the word ninja became more prevalent than shinobi in the post–World War II culture because it was more comfortable for Western speakers. In English, the plural of ninja can be either unchanged as ninja, reflecting the Japanese language's lack of grammatical number, or the regular English plural ninjas. Despite many popular folktales, historical accounts of the ninja are scarce. Historian Stephen Turnbull asserts that the ninja were recruited from the lower class, therefore little literary interest was taken in them; the social origin of the ninja is seen as the reason they agree to operate in secret, trading their service for money without honor and glory. The scarcity of historical accounts is demonstrated in war epics such as The Tale of Hōgen and The Tale of the Heike, which focus on the aristocratic samurai, whose deeds were more appealing to the audience. Historian Kiyoshi Watatani states that the ninja were trained to be secretive about their actions and existence: So-called ninjutsu techniques, in short are the skills of shinobi-no-jutsu and shinobijutsu, which have the aims of ensuring that one's opponent does not know of one's existence, for which there was special training.
The title ninja has sometimes been attributed retrospectively to the semi-legendary 4th-century prince Yamato Takeru. In the Kojiki, the young Yamato Takeru disguised himself as a charming maiden, assassinated two chiefs of the Kumaso people. However, these records take place at a early stage of Japanese history, they are unlikely to be connected to the shinobi of accounts; the first recorded use of espionage was under the employment of Prince Shōtoku in the 6th century. Such tactics were considered unsavory in early times, according to the 10th-century Shōmonki, the boy spy Koharumaru was killed for spying against the insurgent Taira no Masakado; the 14th-century war chronicle Taiheiki contained many references to shinobi, credited the destruction of a castle by fire to an unnamed but "highly skilled shinobi". It was not until the 15th century, it was around this time that the word shinobi appeared to define and identify ninja as a secretive group of agents. Evidence for this can be seen in historical documents, which began to refer to stealthy soldiers as shinobi during the Sengoku period.
Manuals regarding espionage are grounded in Chinese military strategy, quoting works such as The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The ninja emerged as mercenaries in the 15th century, where they were recruited as spies, raiders and terrorists. Amongst the samurai, a sense of ritual and decorum was observed, where one was expected to fight or duel openly. Combined with the unrest of the Sengoku period, these factors created a demand for men willing to commit deeds considered disreputable for conventional warriors. By the Sengoku period, the shinobi had several roles, including spy, surprise attacker, agitator; the ninja families were organized into each with their own territories. A system of rank existed. A jōnin was the highest rank, hiring out mercenaries. This