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Kunoichi - Female Ninja

by Caroline Seawright


My online name is Kunoichi, though I'm no ninja. Somewhere along the line, it got shortened to Kun-chan, and I've stuck with that.

A number of people have asked me about the name, so I thought I'd write up an article to explain what a kunoichi is, and how the word it's a clever word in Japanese!

A kunoichi is a female ninja.

As with the male ninja, they were spies and helped with the ninja's fight (in various different ways) against the samurai. Mistress of deception and 'flowery combat' were among their skills. She was a spy, messenger and observer. Her training, although similar to her male counterparts, focused more on the psychological techniques, including manipulation, disguise, feminine charm and the use of female intuition. They were also taught how to not only play with the emotions of others, but to keep their own emotions in check - they were not allowed to fall in love with their targets!!

Female ninja were classified as part of the kamae of sui (water) and were cultivate to manipulate energy through preying on increased feelings of emotional satisfaction; like the ocean, they would draw out, only to come back, like a wave at riptide, in unexpected ways. these women, or kunoichi as they were called, were given special training in psychological skills and intuition. Taught to manipulate men high-up in the enemy hierarchy, they were known to conceal blades inside musical instruments and sex toys. Shimma kunoichi, ninja family members, were trained as spies who were taught not to fall in love with their targets or lose sight of their ultimate goal after successful seduction. According to Rumiko Hayes, a ninja black belt and the wife of Stephen Hayes, head female agents were sent around the country to collect young female orphans, whom they raised with care. These orphan girls were forever indebted to their agents and would do whatever they were asked in terms of seducing men. Karima kunoichi were women who were not part of the clan but were temporarily hired as maids, mistresses, entertainers, fortunetellers, prostitutes, or artists. In contemporary times, female ninja often fulfill the same roles as men, working in security and law enforcement.

-- Ellen Pearlman

Apparently, one of the favourite weapons for a kunoichi was the neko-te (cat hand).

The neko-te were usually used by the female ninja. The weapon is strong iron fingernails that were fastened into leather bands fitted on the fingers, and resembled claws (not that like or of the shuko, ashiko) and were also dipped in poisons. The eyes were a favorite spot for slashing.

One of the interesting things that my Japanese high school friend told me about the word kunoichi was the way it also means "woman" (onna) when put together.

In Japanese, the 'ku' is written in hirigana, 'no' in katakana and 'ichi' in kanji - add the three together, as in the image below, and you get the Japanese word (in kanji) for woman!

How Kunoichi relates to Onna

A good name for a female ninja, ne? ^_^

You can check out my other articles, or search to find specific information in my articles.

© Caroline 'Kunoichi' Seawright 2000 - present

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