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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogShinobi Snacks Galore: The Best Foods to Have!

Shinobi Snacks Galore: The Best Foods to Have!

Thalia HarrisThalia Harris
Published Time
Posted on 
May 16, 2024
A shinobi dressed in all black with a large hat on their head and stick in hand, squatting on a rock in a forest.

In feudal Japan, a legendary group known as the shinobi, masters of stealth and espionage, whose skills shaped history in the shadows. These invisible warriors whose very existence blurred the lines between myth and reality, shaping the course of history with every silent step they took!

What should I know about the shinobi?

Ninjas, also known as shinobi, were spies and warriors in Japan from the 15th to 17th centuries. They came from families of tough farmers and lived in places like Iga and Koka. These ninjas were part of groups that protected their communities and were good at being sneaky, spying on people, messing up enemy plans, and fighting without being seen!

Three men in all black, posing with swords.
The ninja use an array of weapons. Image via Shutterstock

Samurai were known for their honorable fighting. In contrast, ninjas appeared sneaky as they didn’t stick to typical warrior codes. They excelled in secret missions. They could disguise themselves, collect vital information, and execute covert attacks. A special ninja manual from 1676, the Bansenshukai, contained secrets. It covered combat, disguises, bomb-making, and medicine.

Ninjas weren’t just guys; there were female ninjas called kunoichi who were just as awesome. They pioneered espionage training, messed up enemy plans, and fought when they were young. Ninjas had all kinds of cool gadgets and weapons, like throwing stars, chains with sickles, hand claws, and blowguns!

A kunoichi wearing a red robe.
Female ninjas were integral to Japanese history! Image via Shutterstock

They also had sneaky tools like spike traps, smoke bombs, and poisons to help them escape or sabotage the enemy. They liked using small, hidden weapons like daggers because they were easy to hide. Thanks to their sneaky ways and clever tricks, ninjas did some pretty epic missions and became legends in Japanese history and stories!

Were there any notable shinobi clans? 

Yes, they were called the Iga and Koga clans. The Iga clan lived in what’s now called Mie Prefecture. This clan was like a big ninja school with many families, including superstars like Hattori Hanzo, a bodyguard for a shogun named Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Two ninjas face off in the sunset.
These two clans lived in the mountains. Image via Shutterstock

The Iga ninjas were excellent fighters and knew much about explosives and poisons. They were so good that they were often hired to protect important people. One of their most significant moments was helping Tokugawa Ieyasu escape from a dangerous situation in 1582, which made them famous.

Then there were the Koga ninjas, who came from Shiga Prefecture. The Koga clan was like a big ninja family with 53 smaller families all working together. These ninjas were super loyal to their bosses and were known for being great at medicine, poisons, and even magic tricks! Today, some companies in the Koga area that make medicines can trace their history back to these ninjas.

Members of the Iga and Koga clans fighting on the roof.
Have you ever heard of the Iga and Koga clans before? Image via Shutterstock

Even though the Iga and Koga clans were a bit different, with the Iga being hired fighters and the Koga being super loyal to their own lords, they got along and worked together sometimes. For example, they helped protect Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582. Both clans were super important during a chaotic time in Japan. They were known for their fighting skills, loyalty, and knowledge, making them legends in ninja history!

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Are they popular in anime?

Yes! Ninjas are very popular in anime, and there are some ninja characters that everyone just loves. Let’s talk about a few of them! First up, there’s Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto. He’s probably the most famous ninja in the world of anime. Naruto’s dream is to become the strongest ninja and the leader of his village, called the Hokage. His story is all about his adventures and how he grew up to be super powerful!

Naruto Uzumaki from "Naruto". He is an anime ninja with yellow hair.
Naruto is one of the most famous ninjas in the world! Image via HD Wallpapers

Then, there’s Gabimaru the Hollow from “Hell’s Paradise.” He’s this intense ninja from a scary place known for its ninja assassins. Gabimaru is crazy strong and can even turn invisible!

There’s also Tengen Uzui from Demon Slayer is another ninja, but he’s flashy and loud. He’s trained many heroes to fight demons, and even though he’s a bit out there, everyone respects him because he’s a fantastic fighter.

Some other cool ninja characters are Speed-o’-Sound Sonic from One Punch Man, who’s a super-fast and dangerous ninja assassin; Kouga Gennosuke from Basilisk, who’s a brave ninja warrior; and Shinobu from Ninja Nonsense, who’s more on the funny side but still a skilled ninja in training.

Tengen Uzui from Demon Slayer. He wear a lot of jewelry, painted nails and a red bubble mark over his left eye.
Tengen is incredibly fast and strong. Image via Kimetsu no Yaiba Wiki

People love ninjas in anime because they have fantastic backstories, are good at sneaking around and fighting, and have this cool factor that makes them stand out. As a result, anime shows have made these mysterious and legendary figures into some of the most incredible characters!

What did ninjas eat?

Ninjas valued being sneaky, fast, and strong. Surprisingly, their diet played a big part in this. They enjoyed a special snack known as hyourougan. This superfood pellet was made of sticky rice, lotus seeds, yams, cinnamon, ginseng, and some sugar. They were packed with energy to keep ninjas going during their secret missions.

Hyorougan brown rice pellets on a banana leaf.
Hyorougan was perfect for a quick burst of energy! Image via Toei Eigamura

Ninjas ate mostly simple and healthy foods, like veggies and grains such as brown rice, barley, and millet. These foods helped them stay quick on their feet and ready for anything. Ninjas also avoided strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions because they didn’t want anyone to smell them when hiding in the shadows.

A plate of luxury ninja food from Ninja Tokyo.
Ninja Tokyo offers a full-course ninja meal! Image via Tablecheck

We can’t eat exactly like ninjas today, but some restaurants in Japan offer ninja-inspired food. For instance, Ninja Tokyo is a fancy restaurant that serves dishes similar to those a ninja might have eaten, like fish and miso soup. Eating this way also helped ninjas maintain their skills, which included sneaking, fighting, and surviving tough times in Japan’s history.

Why are shinobi important?

Shinobi are important for several reasons. During the Sengoku period, they played a crucial role as covert agents, spies, and mercenaries, often tipping the balance of power in conflicts. Not to mention, their mastery of various skills and enduring influence in popular culture, particularly anime and manga, have solidified their importance as legendary figures in Japanese history and folklore! What do you think about shinobi? Let us know in the comments below!

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Thalia Harris

Writer living in Tokyo who likes stories, music and video games. <3

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