Ninjas in popular culture
Ninjas are historically known as Japanese spies, assassins, or thieves who formed their own caste outside the usual feudal divisions of lords, and samurai serfs. They are often used as stock characters, in Japanese popular culture and global popular culture.
The ninja first entered popular culture in the Edo period. In modern Japan, ninjas are a national myth that stems from folk tales and continues through modern day popular culture. Though many Japanese warriors performed amazing feats, there is no evidence that any of them were supernatural. Some of folk tales are based on historical figures, such as a daimyō (lord) challenging a ninja to prove his worth by stealing his pillow or weapon while he slept.:14
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Superhuman or supernatural powers were sometimes associated with the ninja. Such powers include flight, invisibility, shapeshifting, the ability to "split" into multiple bodies, the summoning of animals, and control over the five classical elements. These notions stemmed from popular imagination regarding the ninja's mysterious status, as well as romantic ideas found in later Japanese art during the Edo period. Magical powers were sometimes rooted in the ninja's own efforts to disseminate fanciful information. For example, Nakagawa Shoshujin, the 17th-century founder of Nakagawa-ryū, or martial art style, claimed in his own writings (Okufuji Monogatari) that he had the ability to transform into birds and animals.:13
Perceived control over the elements may be grounded in real tactics, which were categorized by association with forces of nature. For example, the practice of starting fires in order to cover a ninja's trail falls under katon-no-jutsu ("fire techniques").
The ninja's adaption of kites in espionage and warfare is another subject of legends. Accounts exist of ninjas being lifted into the air by kites, where they flew over hostile terrain and descended into or dropped bombs on enemy territory. Kites were indeed used in Japanese warfare, but mostly for the purpose of sending messages and relaying signals.:257 Turnbull suggests that kites lifting a man into midair might have been technically feasible, but states that the use of kites to form a human "hang glider" falls squarely in the realm of fantasy.:22–23
Kuji-kiri is an esoteric religious practice which, when performed with an array of specified hand "seals" (kuji-in), or gestures, was meant to allow the ninja to interact with the spirit world and allow them to perform superhuman feats.
The kuji ("nine characters") is a concept originating from Taoism, where it was a string of nine words used in charms and incantations.:2–3 In China, this tradition mixed with Buddhist beliefs, assigning each of the nine words to a Buddhist deity. The kuji may have arrived in Japan via Buddhism,8-11}} where it flourished within Shugendō.:13 Here too, each word in the kuji was associated with Buddhist deities, animals from Taoist mythology, and later, Shinto kami.:24–27 The mudrā, a series of hand symbols representing different Buddhas, was applied to the kuji by Buddhists, possibly through the esoteric Mikkyō teachings.:24–25 The yamabushi ascetics of Shugendō adopted this practice, using the hand gestures in spiritual, healing, and exorcism rituals.
Later, the use of kuji passed onto certain bujutsu (martial arts) and ninjutsu schools, where it was said to have many purposes.:31–33 The application of kuji to produce a desired effect was called "cutting" (kiri) the kuji. Intended effects range from physical and mental concentration, to more incredible claims about rendering an opponent immobile, or even the casting of magical spells.:31 These legends were captured in popular culture, which interpreted the kuji-kiri as a precursor to magical acts.
1998 East Java ninja scare
The 1998 East Java ninja scare was an outbreak of mass hysteria in East Java, Indonesia, in which the local population believed they were being targeted by sorcerers known as ninja, who were blamed for mysterious killings of religious leaders by assassins dressed in black. As many as 150-300 “sorcerers” were killed between February and October, with the most deaths occurring between August and September.
Several real life paramilitary, police and militia groups use the names "Ninja" or "Ninjas":
- The Santomean special-police force of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, officially known as the Emergency Police, are popularly known as Ninjas.
- Rebels in the Pool Region of the Republic of the Congo called themselves Ninja.
- The Red Berets, a Croatian Serb rebel paramilitary group of Dragan Vasiljković based in Knin, Croatia, called themselves "Kninjas". During the early 1990s, the Kninjas were the subject of a Serbian comic-book series.
- Although some death squads active during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor called themselves "Ninja", the name was apparently borrowed from film rather than the Japanese model. "Ninja" gangs were also active elsewhere in Indonesia.
- During the Algerian Civil War, the government's commando units were known as "Ninja" because of their black hoods.
- The FBI's Hostage Rescue Team have been nicknamed "Ninjas".
According to Indeed.com, there was a 7,000-percent increase in the number of job listings with the word "ninja" from 2006 to 2012. A former Russian soldier who committed robberies in Italy in black attire and a bow was called a "Russian ninja" by the BBC. The video-game series Tenchu was adapted for the Japanese stage. In 2006, Miss Japan Kurara Chibana appeared in a ninja-samurai costume for the Miss Universe competition. Goth Ninja, a type of Japanese street fashion, became popular in 2009.
In information technology, "cyber ninja" are sophisticated counter-hackers.
Other ninja attractions in Japan include the Koga Ninja Village and Kogaryu Ninjutsu Yashiki (Ninja Houses) in Koga-gun, Shiga Prefecture, the Togakushi Ninja Village for children, the Togakushi Ninpo Museum and Karakuri Yashiki (Ninja House) in Togakushi, Nagano, the Edo Wonderland theme park in Nikkō, Tochigi and the restaurants Men no Sato and Ninja Akasaka in Tokyo and Ninja Kyoto in Kyoto.
- Honda Hurricane ("Hiding Ninja") (1986).
- Miller Lite ("Bruce Piscopo") (1987).
- Diet Coke ("Ninja") (1987). and ("Train") (1988).
- Puma ("Holiday Heroes" spot 1) (2006). and ("Holiday Heroes" spot 2) (2006).
- GEICO ("Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?") (2011).
- Honda Civic ("Ninja") (2011).
- Nicorette (2011).
- HB-101 ("Flying Ninja") (2014). and ("It's a Miracle!") (2014).
- Alior Sync bank.
- Anime Network.
- Bombay Sapphire.
- Clamato 
- Free Realms.
- Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.
- MyHome.ie 
- Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
- Oregon Lottery.
- Ancient Warriors - The Ninja: Warriors of the Night (1995).
- Unsolved History - Ninjas (2004).
- Shinobi - Winds of the 34 Generations (2006).
- Cities of the Underworld - A-Bomb Underground (2008).
- Deadliest Warrior - Spartan vs Ninja (2009).
- The Search for Historical Ninjutsu (2011).
- Ninja Shadow Warriors (2012).
- Japanology Plus - Ninja (2014).
- Bura Tamori 158「伊賀忍者～なぜ伊賀は“NINJA”の里になったのか？～」 (2019).
- Journeys in Japan「伊賀 忍者の里」 (2019).
- The Man Who Killed The Ninja (2020).
In addition to video games, several game-development companies use "ninja" in their name: Ninja Studio, Ninja Theory, Ninjaforce, NinjaKiwi, and Team Ninja. In massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), "ninja", "loot ninja" or "ninja looter" pejoratively describes a player who has stolen something from another player.
- Magic: The Gathering (where the ability Ninjutsu was introduced in the set Betrayers of Kamigawa).
Ninja-themed novels include:
- Yagyū Ichizoku no Inbō novels by Yoshihiro Matsunaga (松永義弘)
- Nicholas Linnear novels by Eric Van Lustbader 
- The Ninja (1980)
- The Miko (1984)
- White Ninja (1990)
- The Kaisho (1993)
- Floating City (1994)
- Second Skin (1995)
- The Death and Life of Nicholas Linnear (2014) [e-book short story]
- The Oligarch's Daughter (2016) [e-book short story]
- Tulku, a Tale of Modern Ninja (1985) by American ninjutsu practitioner Stephen K. Hayes.
- Shimabara (1986) by Douglass Bailey 
- Vineland (1990) by Thomas Pynchon.
- Batman: The Dragon and the Bat (1994) by Geary Gravel. [novelization of "Night of the Ninja" and "Day of the Samurai" from Batman: The Animated Series.]
- Zorro and the Dragon Riders by David Bergantino (1999).
- Young Samurai novels by Chris Bradford.
- Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior (2008)
- Young Samurai: The Way of the Sword (2009)
- Young Samurai: The Way of Fire (2012) [e-book short story set between books 2 and 3]
- Young Samurai: The Way of the Dragon (2010)
- Young Samurai: The Ring of Earth (2010)
- Young Samurai: The Ring of Water (2011)
- Young Samurai: The Ring of Fire (2011)
- Young Samurai: The Ring of Wind (2012)
- Young Samurai: The Ring of Sky (2012)
- Young Samurai: The Return of the Warrior (2019)
- Tsuma-wa, Kunoichi novels by Machio Kazeno (風野真知雄) 
- Tsuma-wa Kunoichi (妻は、くノ一) (2008-2011): 10 volumes
- Tsuma-wa Kunoichi: Hebino Maki (妻は、くノ一 蛇之巻) (2013): 3 volumes
- Yin-Yang Code novels by Warren Chaney and Sho Kosugi.
- Yin-Yang Code: The Drums of Tenkai-Bo (2017)
- Yin-Yang Code: Shadow of Tenkai-Bo (2018)
- Black Lion (Kuro no Shishi).
- Brave10: adaptation of Sanada Ten Braves.
- Kunoichi Hajimemashita!: gag series.
- Sarutobi Sasuke: manga by Shigeru Sugiura.
- Sasuga no Sarutobi: comedy manga by Fujihiko Hosono about a ninja high school.
- Shōnen Jiraiya: manga by Shigeru Sugiura.
- Tenshi wa Maiorita - Kunoichi Ibun: historical manga series by Ryoichi Ikegami.
- Zannen Kunoichi Den.
The following stories contain at least one ninja character, but are not ninja-themed:
- The Justice League: Shogun of Steel one-shot substitutes Batman with a Japanese female ninja named Komori (Bat).
- Half Past Danger.
- G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero characters Storm Shadow and Snake-Eyes, and their family history, as well as Jinx and Cobra Night Creepers and Red Ninjas.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Many characters such as Turtles themselves, the Shredder and Karai are examples of this.
- "Ninja", an American Heavy Metal band from Los Angeles formed before 1985.
- "Ninja", an American Heavy Metal band from New York formed before 1986.
- "Ninja", a German Heavy Metal band formed in 1986.
- "Ninja", a 1986 song by Europe (on "The Final Countdown").
- "Ninja", a 1990 album and song by Christina Aguilar.
- "Inner Ninja", a 2012 song by Classified (on "Classified").
- "Ninjas", a 2017 song by Rey Pila.
- Ninja Crew.
- Built by Ninjas is a music video production group formed by Jaret Reddick and Heath Balderston.
- Fans of the rap group Insane Clown Posse, known as juggalos, sometimes refer to themselves as "ninja".
- Members of Momoiro Clover Z dressed as ninja for the music video for "D' no Junjō".
- Rika Adachi performed in a music video based on a song from Naruto.
- Iga FC Kunoichi is a Japanese Nadeshiko League women's association football team.
- Ninja Chops wrestles in the Naked Women's Wrestling League.
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- Stephen Turnbull (2003). Ninja, A.D. 1460-1650. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781841765259.
- McNeil, Jason William. "Return of the Ninja!". Black Belt. Archived from the original on November 17, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- Hendrix, Grady (2007-06-26). "The state of the ninja". Slate. Retrieved 2015-06-05.
- Mol, Serge (2003). Classical Weaponry of Japan: Special Weapons and Tactics of the Martial Arts (1st ed.). Tokyo: Kodansha International. p. 176. ISBN 9784770029416.
- Draeger, Donn F.; Smith, Robert W. (1985). Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts (1st ed.). Tokyo: Kodansha International. pp. 128–129. ISBN 9780870114366.
- Buckley, Sandra (2001). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture (1st ed.). New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415143448.
- Waterhouse, David (1996). Religion in Japan: Arrows to Heaven and Earth (Reprint ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521550284.
- Teeuwen, Mark; Rambelli, Fabio (2003). Buddhas and Kami in Japan: Honji Suijaku as a Combinatory Paradigm. London: Routledge Curzon. p. 327. ISBN 9780415297479.
- Kristof, Nicholas D. (October 20, 1998). "Fears of Sorcerers Spur Killings in Java". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2018.
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- Tsoumou, Christian (June 8, 2007). "Congo's Ninja rebels burn weapons and pledge peace". Reuters AlertNet. Archived from the original on August 4, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
- Robinson, Natasha; Madden, James (April 13, 2007), Captain Dragan set for extradition, The Australian, archived from the original on August 4, 2009, retrieved August 26, 2009
- Knight-Ridder Newspapers (1991-12-25). "Serbian Media Bombard Public With Nazi Footage, 'Kninjas'". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- Borman, Trevor (May 27, 2011). "The Real Captain Dragan". ABC News. Archived from the original on December 25, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
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- Waco – The Inside Story, FRONTLINE, PBS 1995
- McMillan, Robert (2012-05-21). "Looking for a Coding Job? Better a Ninja Than a Brogrammer". Wired. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
- Fraser, Christian (2007-06-12). "Russian 'ninja' arrested in Italy". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
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- "Miss Universe in ninja high heels". 3Yen. July 19, 2006. Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- Betts, Kate (8 December 2009). "The Top 10 Everything of 2009". Time. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
- Drew, Christopher (2009-12-29). "Wanted: 'Cyber Ninjas'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- Kyung Hoon, Kim (2008-04-08). "Japan village exposes secret world of ninja fighters". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
- "1986 - Honda Hurricane Motorcycle - Hiding Ninja Commercial". YouTube. 3 January 2019. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Joe Piscopo Miller Lite Commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
- "Diet Coke, Batman and Pierce Brosnan". The Coca-Cola Company. Retrieved 10 February 2021.[dead link]
- "Pierce Brosnan in 1988 Diet Coke Commercial". YouTube. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Michelle Yeoh in 2006 Puma Commercial 1". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "Michelle Yeoh in 2006 Puma Commercial 2". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "GEICO ("Is the Pen Mightier Than the Sword?") commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "Honda Civic ("Ninja") commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "Honda Civic - "Ninja" commercial". splendad.com. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "Nicorette Ad Ninjas". YouTube. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "HB-101 ("Flying Ninja") commercial". ispot.tv. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "HB-101 ("It's a Miracle!") commercial". ispot.tv. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "HB-101 - "It's a Miracle!" commercial". YouTube. Retrieved 21 February 2021.
- "Ninja reklamuje Alior Sync (wideo)". Wirtualnemedia (in Polish). Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Funny Ninja Commercial". YouTube. 24 November 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Ninja Commercial - Bombay Sapphire". YouTube. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Motts Clamato Commercial - Ninjas (kung foo fighting)". YouTube. 11 August 2010. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Funny FedEx Commercial - Bear, hunter, ninja". YouTube. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Free Realms Ninja Prank Commercial". YouTube. 16 May 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Pub UFJ Tsubasa Securities Ninja". YouTube. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Ninja Nuns". YouTube. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- "Nike Ninja Commercial". YouTube. 13 May 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Nintendo WiFi Ninja Commercial". YouTube. 2 February 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Oregon State Lotto Sudoku Ninja Commercial". YouTube. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Sure Ninja". YouTube. 10 July 2006. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
- "Ancient Warriors "The Ninja: Warriors of the Night". thetvdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "The Real History of the Ninja : Documentary on Ancient Japan's Ninja Warriors (Full Documentary)". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "Unsolved History - Ninjas". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "Shinobi - Winds of the 34 Generations". facebook.com. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "MythBusters - Walking on Water". thetvdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
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- "Cities of the Underworld - A-Bomb Underground". thetvdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
- "Deadliest Warrior - Spartan vs Ninja". thetvdb.com. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
- "The Search for Historical Ninjutsu". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
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- "Japanology Plus -Ninja". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
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- "Journeys in Japan 「伊賀 忍者の里」". nhk.jp. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "The Man Who Killed The Ninja". YouTube. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
- "Betrayers of Kamigawa Theme Deck – Ninjutsu". Wizards.com. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
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This further reading section may contain inappropriate or excessive suggestions that may not follow Wikipedia's guidelines. Please ensure that only a reasonable number of balanced, topical, reliable, and notable further reading suggestions are given; removing less relevant or redundant publications with the same point of view where appropriate. Consider utilising appropriate texts as inline sources or creating a separate bibliography article. (May 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Adams, Andrew (1970), Ninja: The Invisible Assassins, Black Belt Communications, ISBN 978-0-89750-030-2
- Bunch, Bryan H.; Hellemans, Alexander (2004), The history of science and technology: a browser's guide to the great discoveries, inventions, and the people who made them, from the dawn of time to today, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0-618-22123-3
- Chamberlain, Basil Hall (2005), The Kojiki: records of ancient matters, Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8048-3675-3
- Crowdy, Terry (2006), The enemy within: a history of espionage, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84176-933-2
- Deal, William E. (2007), Handbook to Life in Medieval and Early Modern Japan, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-195331264
- Draeger, Donn F.; Smith, Robert W. (1981), Comprehensive Asian fighting arts, Kodansha, ISBN 978-0-87011-436-6
- Fiévé, Nicolas; Waley, Paul (2003), Japanese capitals in historical perspective: place, power and memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-7007-1409-4
- Friday, Karl F. (2007), The first samurai: the life and legend of the warrior rebel, Taira Masakado, Wiley, ISBN 978-0-471-76082-5
- Howell, Anthony (1999), The analysis of performance art: a guide to its theory and practice, Routledge, ISBN 978-90-5755-085-0
- Green, Thomas A. (2001), Martial arts of the world: an encyclopedia, Volume 2: Ninjutsu, ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-1-57607-150-2
- Kawaguchi, Sunao (2008), Super Ninja Retsuden, PHP Research Institute, ISBN 978-4-569-67073-7
- McCullough, Helen Craig (2004), The Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan, Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8048-3538-1
- Mol, Serge (2003), Classical weaponry of Japan: special weapons and tactics of the martial arts, Kodansha, ISBN 978-4-7700-2941-6
- Morton, William Scott; Olenik, J. Kenneth (2004), Japan: its history and culture, fourth edition, McGraw-Hill Professional, ISBN 978-0-07-141280-3
- Nihon Hakugaku Kurabu (2006), Unsolved Mysteries of Japanese History, PHP Research Institute, ISBN 978-4-569-65652-6
- Nihon Hakugaku Kurabu (2004), Zuketsu Rekishi no Igai na Ketsumatsu, PHP Research Institute, ISBN 978-4-569-64061-7
- Perkins, Dorothy (1991), Encyclopedia of Japan: Japanese History and Culture, from Abacus to Zori, Facts on File, ISBN 978-0-8160-1934-2
- Ratti, Oscar; Westbrook, Adele (1991), Secrets of the samurai: a survey of the martial arts of feudal Japan, Tuttle Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8048-1684-7
- Reed, Edward James (1880), Japan: its history, traditions, and religions: With the narrative of a visit in 1879, Volume 2, John Murray, OCLC 1309476
- Satake, Akihiro; Yasumada, Hideo; Kudō, Rikio; Ōtani, Masao; Yamazaki, Yoshiyuki (2003), Shin Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: Man'yōshū Volume 4, Iwanami Shoten, ISBN 4-00-240004-2
- Takagi, Ichinosuke; Gomi, Tomohide; Ōno, Susumu (1962), Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei: Man'yōshū Volume 4, Iwanami Shoten, ISBN 4-00-060007-9
- Tatsuya, Tsuji (1991), The Cambridge history of Japan Volume 4: Early Modern Japan: Chapter 9, translated by Harold Bolitho, edited by John Whitney Hall, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-22355-3
- Teeuwen, Mark; Rambelli, Fabio (2002), Buddhas and kami in Japan: honji suijaku as a combinatory paradigm, RoutledgeCurzon, ISBN 978-0-415-29747-9
- Turnbull, Stephen (2007), Warriors of Medieval Japan, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84603-220-2
- Turnbull, Stephen (2017), Ninja: Unmasking the Myth, Casemate Publishers, ISBN 978-1-47385-042-2
- Moriyama, T. (1998). "Weekend Adventures Outside of Tokyo", Shufunotomo Co. Ltd., Tokyo Japan, ISBN 4-07-975049-8.
- Frederic, L. (2002). "Japan Encyclopedia", Belknap Harvard, ISBN 0-674-01753-6
- Fujibayashi, Masatake; Nakajima, Atsumi. (1996). Shōninki: Ninjutsu densho. Tokyo: Shinjinbutsu Ōraisha. OCLC 222455224.
- Fujita, Seiko. (2004). Saigo no Ninja Dorondoron. Tokyo: Shinpūsha. ISBN 978-4-7974-9488-4.
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