Mochizuki Chiyome, rumoured to be originally from the Kōga clan, was the wife of Mochizuki Nobumasa, a samurai warlord from Shinano and lord of the Mochizuki Castle (he was killed in the Battle of Nagashino in 1575). While Nobumasa was off in battle, she was often left in the care of the daimyo Takeda Shingen, who also was the uncle of her husband. It was then when Shingen approached her and gave her an important mission to recruit women and create an underground network of kunoichi (female ninja) agents. Takeda’s plan was to have fully trained female operatives who could act as subversive agents used to gather information and deliver coded messages to his allies; Chiyome was the best candidate for this, since she came from a long line of Kōga ninja. She accepted the task, set up her operation in the village of Nazu in the Shinshu region, and began her search for potential candidates for training.
Chiyome recruited several young women who were recently orphaned, prostitutes or victims of the civil wars of the Sengoku period. She also recruited girls who were either lost or abandoned. Many people believed that she was helping these women, and giving them an opportunity to start up a new life. But in reality, they were trained to become highly efficient information gatherers and verifiers, seductresses, messengers and when necessary, assassins. The girls were taught all the skills of a miko (Shinto shrine maiden or a wandering female shaman), which allowed them to travel virtually anywhere without suspicion, receiving religious education to complete their disguise. Over time, Chiyome's kunoichi learned to effectively use more disguises such as actresses, prostitutes or geisha. This allowed them to move freely within villages, towns, castles and temples, and get closer to their targets. Eventually, Chiyome and her kunoichi had set up an extensive network of some 200-300 agents that served the Takeda clan and Shingen was always informed of all activities, putting him one step ahead of his opponents at all times until his mysterious death in 1573.
In popular culture
Mochizuki Chiyome is featured as a character in the video game Red Ninja: End of Honor, in the video game series Samurai Warriors (as a trainer of the character Kunoichi in Samurai Warriors and appearing as a leader of the kunoichi bodyguards in Samurai Warriors 2), in the video game Sangoku Heroes. As "Chiyome", she is a non-playable character in Pokémon Conquest, using Ground and Dark type Pokémon., and in the iPhone game Puzzles and Dragons as Mochizuki Chiyome.
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