I have always wondered, what were the realistic weapons and tools ninjas used for stealthy acts of espionage or even assassinations that were not skewed in popular culture.
First and foremost, there is a fine line between a tool and weapon that ninjas exploited because certain tools, almost all, doubled as weapons.
Ninjas would use simple gardening tools in certain situations so if caught he can claim they are just tools not weapons. These included sickles and the kunai, a multipurpose tool used to puncture holes in walls or gardening with rough edges, a leaf shaped blade and a handle with a ring.
Other tools included grappling hooks, small knives to create holes, spiked or hooked climbing gear that doubled as weapons, chisels, hammers, and the famous mizugumo, shoes that popular culture transformed into myth.
The mizugumo are a set of wooden shoes that were tied to the ninjas feet and legend has it that these shoes allowed ninjas to walk on water. Spoiler alert! This myth was indeed disproven by the famous television show, Mythbusters.
Now for the fun part. Ninjas used a multitude of weapons some that popular culture references clarified others that were merely exploited by the media without any real foundation.
The most common weapon is the katana, which ninjas usually carried on their backs and used for multiple purposes. This sword is often referenced in popular culture as a “samurai sword” even though ninjas used them as well. They had a curved, slender blade and a tight grip.
Ninjas would use the katana as a foothold to gain higher ground, to probe, to stun, as ninjas would fill the sheath with different spices, dirt or dust to spray into the opponents’ eyes when drawing the sword.
Contrary to popular belief the ninja did not use a straight sword or ninjato that we see in the movies and on television shows. There is not historical evidence stating ninjas used the straight ninjato instead they primarily used “samurai swords”.
Throughout history ninjas have used a multitude of weapons to follow through and successfully accomplish any tasks, they were also very creative with simple weapons as well. As time progressed, so did the weapons including bombs and explosives.
So there you have it, popular culture can sometimes help but it can also hurt the image and truth behind the mysterious ninjas.