For hundreds of years the IGA (Togakure) group of ninjas were the major force in the Ninjitsu,
however smaller groups existed in other parts of Japan. Within these groups of spies, saboteurs and killers there
developed two super groups, namely the IGA of Mie prefecture and the deadly KOGA of Shiga prefecture.
Interestingly, Shigais next to the Mie prefecture in southern Japan. The KOGA and IGA inhabited the same
mountain range, in two valleys divided by a mountain. Completely isolated from the outside world, where they lived
as farmers and were consulted by the locals on medicine, herbs, weather forecasting and agriculture.
From among the warlords, great generals came forth who gradually unified Japan. Leaders such as
Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga and perhaps the greatest general in the Japanese History, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
They all employed the Ninja to help control the country through a complex spy network.
The KOGA Ninja consisted of 53 families. They specialised in medicines and explosives and developed many
of the tools and weapons used by the Ninja. Though small in number, they were an elite force and became
the second most famous group.
Besides the IGA. Based near Kyoto, they were recruited by the great rulers of Japan as counsellors and
In 1573, Oda Nobunaga became the Shogun, or military dictator and when he was assassinated in 1582,
a commoner, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who died in 1598 took over the government. In 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu
became Shogun by defeating Hideyoshi’s son at the battle of Seki ga Hara.
With the close of the Sengoku era in 1600, three hundred years of peace and prosperity followed,
known as the Tokugawa era in the Japanese History. Up until this time the capital of Japan had
been in Kyoto, but Tokugawa moved the capital to Edo, or Tokyo as we know it. He took with him three
hundred Ninja from the KOGA and IGA groups as personal bodyguards. Later these Ninja guarded the castle in
Now the peace had come at last to a united Japan, the Ninja, whose work and usefulness had been
invaluable in the time of war, found themselves glorified servants around the castle of Tokyo. They
became known as oniwaban (gardeners) by the people and were ridiculed by the samurai and the
ladies-in-waiting who attended the Shogun’s court. Although still used to gather information and to
carry messages for the lords, at any sign of rebellion the Ninja mainly acted as bodyguards to Tokugawa.