The ninja heritage of the Bujinkan is from Iga province, so this is a great article written by Sean Askew as a Facebook Post posted on his personal FB page. Visit his website/blog for more: bkrbudo.com
"Evidence for the resiliency of the Iga-no-mono shinobi warriors
Most ninjutsu history enthusiasts are aware that the Iga province was conquered by Oda Nobunaga in 1581 CE after a failed attempt in 1579 CE by his son Oda Nobukatsu. This battle, in Japanese, is called Tensho Iga no Ran. But did you know the men of Iga made a bit of a comeback???
Oda Nobunaga's large army of approximately 42,000 men attacked the Iga warriors, totaling 10,000 men at most. When the Oda forces advanced, they burned down castles, shrines, and temples. The most significant battles were the siege of Hijiyama Castle (the headquarters for the northern Iga forces defended by Momota Toubei and Toda Zairoku) and the siege of Kashiwara Castle in the south (defended by Momochi Tanba Yasumitsu, headmaster of Gyokko and Togakure Ninpo). When Hijiyama castle was about to be lost, Momota Toubei and Toda Zairoku escaped at night and fell back to Kashiwara to support Momochi.
Vastly outnumbered, the Iga forces quickly surrender at Kashiwara Castle on October 8, 1581 CE.
But nearly all the major Iga shinobi commanders, including Momochi, Momota and Toda, seem to have escaped during the night before the surrender. Large scale Iga resistance ended and control of the Iga province was handed over to Oda Nobunaga's son, Nobukatsu. Fortunately, as you will see below, the Iga-no-mono and their secretive shinobi would live on to fight another day.
In June of 1582 CE Oda Nobunaga committed suicide after being surprise attacked by Akechi Mitsuhide at Honnoji temple. Immediately upon receiving this information, the Iga-no-mono rose up from the various places they had been hiding in. The military chronicle, Seishu Gunki (勢州軍記), describes this as the "Iga Province Dust Uprising" 「伊賀国一挨蜂起」
The Iga-no-mono quickly took back Fukuchi Castle at Tsuge, attacked Oda commanders Fukuchi Iyo and Ikejiri, driving them out of Iga and back to Ise. Sawa Rokuro (沢六郎), Akiyama Ukon (秋山右近), Yoshino Miyauchi (芳野宮内) and others from Yamato were dispatched to suppress the uprising against the guardian of Iga (伊賀守護) Nikki Yubai (仁木友梅) at Heiraku-ji Temple in the heart of Iga.
In a sense, it was this Nikki Yubai that set off the chain of events into action that led to Oda’s invasion of Iga. After officially being appointed guardian of Iga, with Oda Nobunaga’s approval and support, he was invited by the countrymen of Iga to come to Iga from Eshu. After staying in Sanda for a while, he entered Iga province and settled at Heirakuji Temple (平楽寺) in Ueno. He ruled as the lord of Iga, but the countrymen came to despise him for his policies. A fissure gradually arose between them and in 1577 CE, he was exiled to Shigaraki in Koka after a confrontation with Momota Toubei over a Buddhist statue.
This event in turn infuriated Oda Nobukatsu causing him to underestimate the warriors of Iga and fail miserably in his attempt to invade the province in 1579 CE. This embarrassment to the Oda family caused daddy, Nobunaga, to invade a second time in 1581 CE, this time they would not lose.
In the above mentioned Seishu Gunki we find the following entry about Hattori Hanzo and the Kuki family;
…Also, Tokugawa Ieyasu added Hattori Hanzo and his 100-man musketeer units to his forces. In total, the forces of the Iga/Ise army numbered more than 30,000 men. Takigawa had long been taking hostages from the southern samurai families (to ensure loyalty). However, Tamaru Nakatsugu Shosuke (田丸中務少輔), Kuki Osumi no Kami (九鬼大隅守), Sawa Genrokuro (澤源六郎), Akiyama Ukon Shogen (秋山右近将監), and Yoshino Miyauchi Shosuke (芳野宮内少輔), at the advice of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, plotted a rebellion and became allies of the Hashiba clan (羽柴家). Oda Uenosuke Nobukane (織田上野介信包) also sided with Hideyoshi…
I find this to be clear and compelling enough evidence to demonstrate that ninjutsu was not squashed out by Oda Nobunaga and his invading forces. It seems to be quite the contrary. It also shows that by the end of the Sengoku Period the warriors of Iga were advanced marksmen and were held in high regard for this. More so than their skills in invisibility and magic. As soon as Nobunaga was dead the shinobi of Iga quickly sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu to form his personal bodyguard and sharpshooter unit. Ieyasu and his family in Mikawa province had been long-time benefactors of both Iga no mono and Koka no mono, so it was a natural transition.
The next question that pops up in my head is, what would they have done had Oda Nobunaga not died at Honnoji? Would they have still risen up and try to take Iga back, or would they have stayed in hiding and make a new start elsewhere?
The search continues...
Sean Askew – Dōtō 導冬
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo
August 23, 2020"
Shane Sensei is a licensed Shidoshi in the Bujinkan and member of the Shidoshi-Kai. He has trained in the Bujinkan since 1998 and regularly travels to Japan for training.