Historians have had an incredibly difficult time when it comes to separating fact from fiction and applying historical accuracy when it comes to ninjas, one of history’s most elusive and secretive organizations.
This level of secrecy was no accident at all, as ninja organizations trained heavily in the arts of deception, stealth, secrecy, and deliberate misinformation.
One of the most potent tools in their disposal to maintain this level of secrecy was known as Bakemono-Jutsu.
Bakemono-Jutsu is a term that has come to adopt a variety of meanings. The word translates to “changing things”. The term Bakemono-Jutsu has also been traditionally used in Japanese culture as a term for monsters or demons.
Ninjas adapted the term Bakemono-Jutsu to represent what they referred to as the “Ghost Arts”.
In a sense, the ninjas combined the two previously standing interpretations of the word to fit their needs. They relied upon the level of fear and superstitious belief that the term invoked while also deliberately changing things to disguise themselves, hide themselves away, or otherwise achieve their objectives.
To the ninjas, Bakemono-Jutsu meant to train in the arts of stealthy maneuvers, learn to transform items or disguises to appear as an enemy, to blend in with bushes or shrubbery nearby, and to further cement the notion that these ninja, or Shinobi, possessed supernatural abilities beyond that of normal human beings.
A famous example of the application of the Ninja technique Bakemono-Jutsu occurred during the Sengoku period in 1558.
Tateoka Doshun led his team of warriors during the siege of Sawayama Castle and utilized a particularly clever aspect of the Bakemono-Jutsu ninja technique. He and his men dressed as the samurai guarding the castle, fashioned paper lanterns that display the enemies badge which allowed them access to critical areas without being challenged. They then proceeded to set fire to the castle from within while it was being seized from outside. This is just one example in history of how the use of the Ninja technique Bakemono-Jutsu had a drastic historical impact.
This “Ghost Technique” contributed heavily to the level of notoriety and fear that ninja organizations commanded while also drastically increasing their level of effectiveness on the battlefield.
People of the era who were not aware of the tactics and training regimens utilized by these ninja began to perceive them as spirits, demons, or other supernatural beings.
These ninjas, or Shinobi, who were particularly adept at completing their missions often heavily relied upon the use of their Bakemono-Jutsu and came to be perceived as ghosts, as per the name of the Ninja technique.