Mochizuki Chiyome

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Mochizuki Chiyome
望月 千代女
Born16th century
DiedUnknown date
AllegianceTakeda mon.svg Takeda clan
Commands heldLeader of female ninjas (Kunoichi) of the Takeda clan
Spouse(s)Mochizuki Moritoki

Mochizuki Chiyome (望月 千代女), also known as Mochizuki Chiyojo (望月 千代女) or Mochizuki Chiyo (望月 千代),[1] was a Japanese poet and noblewoman of the 16th century. She created an all-female group of ninja agents (Kunoichi) in service of the Takeda clan.[2][3]


Chiyome, a descendant of the 15th-century ninja Mochizuki Izumo-no-Kami (望月出雲守) of the Kōga-ryū, was the wife of Mochizuki Moritoki, a samurai lord of Shinano's Saku District and himself a distant relative of Izumo-no-Kami. After Moritoki was killed in the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561, Chiyome was left in the care of the daimyō Takeda Shingen, the leader of the Takeda clan and an uncle of her late 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) and employ them against the rival warlords. Takeda's plan was to have fully trained female operatives who could act as spies and 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 Nezu (jp:祢津村) in the Shinshū region (the present-day city of Tōmi, Nagano), and began her search for potential candidates for training.

Chiyome recruited prostitutes and other wayward women, victims of the civil wars of the Sengoku period, and young girls who were either orphaned, 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 information gatherers and verifiers, seductresses, messengers and, when necessary, assassins. The women were taught all the skills of a miko (Shinto shrine maiden or a wandering priestess), 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, which allowed them to move freely within villages, towns, castles and temples, and get access 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, after which she disappeared from historical records.[4][5][6][7]

Historicity dispute[edit]

It has been alleged that her name has appeared only after the 1971 book Investigation of Japanese History (考証日本史) was written by non-academic writer Shisei Inagaki (稲垣史生).Yoshimaru:p282 In this book, Inagaki:

  1. Describes the details of the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima.Yoshimaru:p282
  2. Claims that Moritoki Mochizuki was a husband of Chiyome and that he died at this battle.Yoshimaru:p282
  3. Presents a historical written permission to Chiyome issued by Shingen and claims that, due to this permission, the "miko village" emerged.Yoshimaru:p282
  4. Claims that the miko of the village became spies.Yoshimaru:p282
  5. Claims that Chiyome then became a ninja.

However, Katsuya Yoshimaru (吉丸雄哉), an associate professor of Mie University who studies Japanese Edo period literature and the ninja, claims that Chiyome did not actually exist and lists the allegedly erroneous points of Inagaki's book:

  1. There is no historical document describing the details of this battle.Yoshimaru:p282
  2. Moritoki did not die in this battle.Yoshimaru:p284
  3. This written permission is not extant.Yoshimaru:p282 Generally speaking, most of such kind of written permissions are forged ones.Yoshimaru:p284
  4. The claim of spy activities of the miko is groundless; it is based only on guess of Inagaki.Yoshimaru:p284
  5. This is groundless as well. Although Inagaki refers History of Japanese Miko (日本巫女史), 1930, written by Taro Nakayama (中山太郎), this book says nothing about ninjaYoshimaru:p284 and all mentions first appear in Inagaki's book.

The name of Chiyome became popular after a two-page article about her was published in a 1991 special issue of the magazine History Reader (歴史読本) titled Extraordinary Special Issue: All the Definitive Types of Ninja (臨時増刊号『決定版「忍者」の全て』).Yoshimaru:p285 This article said that Chiyome was an upper ninja (上忍); according to Yoshimaru, historically there was no such rank in a ninja hierarchy.Yoshimaru:p285

In popular culture[edit]

Mochizuki Chiyome is featured in many video games (mostly Japan-exclusive social games) in which she is often shown in a partial or full miko costume, including Ayakashi: Ghost Guild,[8] Blood Brothers,[9] Chain Chronicle,[10] Full Boko Heroes,[11] Hero Hunter,[12] Hyakuhime Ryoran! Sengoku Asuka,[13] Jikuu Haoden,[14] Juggler×Monster,[15] Kamigoku no Valhalla Gate,[16] Legend of the Cryptids,[17] Legends of Drift,[18] Nobunaga's Ambition: Souzou (DLC),[19] Puzzle & Dragons,[20][21] Samurai Princess Muramasa,[22] Samurai Retsuden,[23] Samurai Souls,[24] Sangoku Collection,[25][26] Sengoku Hagyo,[27] Sangoku Heroes,[28] Sangoku Saga,[29] Sangoku Taisen,[30] Sekigahara Engi,[31] Sengoku Hime 3,[32] Sengoku IXA,[33] Shin Sengoku Buster,[34] Shirogane no Seisen,[35] Soul Circle,[36] The Samurai Kingdom,[37] Tenka Touitsu Chronicle,[38] and Toukiden: The Age of Demons.[39] She is mentioned as a trainer of the playable character Kunoichi in Samurai Warriors and appears in person in Samurai Warriors 2, and is Shingen's mistress and the master and surrogate mother of Kurenai, the protagonist of Red Ninja: End of Honor.[40] Chiyome appears in Assassin's Creed: Memories,[41] where she is recruited by the Templars after the death of Shingen and becomes an enemy of Hattori Hanzō, and in Onimusha Soul, in which she works with the evil Genma and appears in several very different forms, ages and art styles.[42][43][44][45][46][47] She is a non-playable character using Ground and Dark type pokémon in Pokémon Conquest,[48] and elite versions of generic "Kunoichi" enemies in Marvel: Avengers Alliance are named "Chiyome". Innocent World (Japanese version of Aura Kingdom) offered a catgirl version of Chiyome as a player character,[49][50] and another game has her in a full cat form.[51] In Sangoku Taisen, she is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro.[52] She also appears as an Assassin-class Servant in Fate/Grand Order.

Yatsuko Tanami played her in the film Sanada Yukimura no Bōryaku (also known as Death of the Shogun, Renegade Ninjas, and The Shogun Assassins).[53] She appears as a major character in David Kudler's young-adult historical novel Risuko.[54]


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  • Katsuya Yoshimaru and Yuji Yamada (April 2017). "望月千代女伝の虚妄". In 吉丸雄哉、山田雄司 編 (ed.). 忍者の誕生. Bensei Shuppan. ISBN 978-4-585-22151-7.

External links[edit]