While many have discussed the exploits of legendary male ninjas, less is publicly known about one of the most famous female ninjas of all time;
Mochizuki Chiyome was a kunoichi, a female ninja, that is the source of many stories throughout the history of ninjas in the feudal era of Japan.
While much of what is known about Mochizuki Chiyome is questionable due to the level of secrecy and misinformation utilized by ninjas, we shall dive into what facts are available.
Wife to a samurai in the Saku district of Shinano, Mochizuki Chiyome did not begin to take action with ninja organizations until after her husband perished.
According to the lore, she was approached by Takeda Shingen, leader of the Takeda Clan, and he requested of her to begin to find other females to build a secretive coalition of female ninjas and to train them in the ways of the ninja to strike back at various enemies.
Mochizuki Chiyome began this task by creating a front that appeared as though she were helping victims of the wars, orphaned little girls, prostitutes, and any other women who seem lost in life. The truth was that these were her initial recruits for the first female ninja organization. These were the first kunoichi.
She began to train these women and girls to collect information, seduce men with information when needed, pass on communications, and even administer poisons to specified targets. These women were also trained to act and behave as priestesses, prostitutes, or maids. This allowed the female ninjas to infiltrate different locations without coming under suspicion. Learning to act and apply disguises was another aspect of the training that these female ninjas went through.
One of the reasons these tactics were so effective was that the majority of men in that era drastically underestimated women and did not perceive them to be capable threats as they were. This led to massive amounts of information being leaked over time and many assassinations.
Some historians posit that Mochizuki Chiyome had grown her organization up to nearly three hundred different kunoichi. This organization gave the Takeda Clan a powerful advantage over their enemies.
Mochizuki Chiyome has also appeared as a character in various video games and anime shows. She also makes an appearance in a popular video game known as “Assassin’s Creed”.
It is also worth noting that there is a degree of historical dispute regarding Mochizuki Chiyome. While some historians assert that she never actually existed and was a name utilized by several different women, others also state that she existed but that her feeds were drastically exaggerated.
One might consider the possibility that Mochizuki Chiyome a was a powerful influence and proof that women could be utilized just as effectively as men, if not more so, in the arts of espionage and assassination.