Supposedly, the art of Shinobi-jutsu, or nin-jutsu as it was later called, originated in the seventh century AD, during the reign of Prince Setoku Taishi. Since then, it has been astonishing, and sometimes terrifying, to anyone who has observed or experienced it in action. You can imagine the panic of the villagers 10 centuries ago, when it seemed to them that a ninja could disappear at will and enter with ease into a room with the strongest bars, locks and bolts, which became powerless before the power of Shino-bi.
Medieval Japanese ninja spies and saboteurs and their mysterious professional art of nin-jutsu are among the least explored areas.
Who are the ninja?
The word "ninja" is written in two characters: "nin" (in another reading "shinobu")
1) to bear, endure, tear down;
2) to hide, hide, do something secretly);
and "sya" (in the voiced form "jia"; in another reading "mono") - "man". The noun "shinobi," formed from the verb "shinobu," means:
1) secret infiltrator;
2) a spy, a spy, a spy;
The word "ninja" did not appear until the twentieth century. Previously, its equivalent was a different reading of the same characters: "shinobi-no-mo", literally, "a man in hiding", "a man who infiltrates secretly". This was the name given to spies in Japan from the 14th century onward.
In many works on the history of nin-jutsu one can find an analysis of the relationship between the constituent parts of the character "nin" in order to show some hidden philosophical original meaning of the word "ninja". For example, this character has been interpreted as "the heart (or spirit) controls and directs weapons".
However, it is thought that this is nothing more than later interpretations and gymnastics of the mind. This is confirmed by the fact that long before spies were called "shinobi" in Japan, the Japanese language already had numerous words derived from the verb "shinobu" with quite "spy" meanings:
shinobiyoru - to sneak up; s
inobiru - to secretly sneak somewhere;
shinobi-aruku, to sneak around;
Shinobisugata-dae: disguised, incognito, under a false name;
Shinobiasi-dae, to tiptoe, quietly, etc.
"Shinobi" was by no means the only term for members of the spy profession. In the sources we find references to kanja ("spy", "person [penetrating through] a hole"), teojia ("spy"), kamari ("ducking"), ukami-bito ("learning person"), suppa ("waves on water", "waves penetrating [somewhere]"), seppa ("same), rappa ("rebellious waves"), toppa ("pounding waves"), monokiki ("listening"), toome ("far [seeing] eyes"), mitsumono ("triple people," "upsetting people"), datsuko ("word snatchers"), kedan ("[overhearing] chatter for treats"), yama-kuguri ("climbing under the mountain"), kusa ("grass"), etc.