What is Onmitsu?

During the Warring States period, there used to be a lot of the ninja groups in Japan. The Iga and Koga people were especially famous as mercenary ninjas.
Since the Igamono (Iga people) helped Tokugawa Ieyasu to go through the Iga mountains to get to safety, they were officially employed as samurai by the Tokugawa Shogunate after Ieyasu unified the country and received the title of Shogun from the emperor of the time. The Igamono took on the duties of undercover agents and spies, together with other samurais without shinobi backgrounds. They were the shogun’s samurai retainers, and were called the Tokugawa Shogunate’s secret agents “Kohgi Onmitsu(公儀隠密). Our ancestors were shinobi-samurai (ninshi 忍士), onmitsu of the Tokugawas. They were different from the shinobinomono (those who didn’t belong to the samurai class) of Warring States time, so were their mindsets. Receiving education from the government school of Shoheiko meant a lot to the shinobi samurai. They studied hard.

Nakane Masanori, inspector general of the shogunate, organized a covert organization belonging to the government in the early part of the 17th century. Around that time the code of samurai (“shido” not “bushido”) was established, and the shinobi-samurai’s ideas of were formed. The shinobi-samurai’s thoughts were focused on “harmony” of the society, where people of different cultures live peacefully and prosper together. The Onmitsushu (agents) consisted of all types of people, not only the Igamono and Kokamono but Oniwaban from Kishu and other samuraishu who worked as intelligence agent and secret police. They are the samurai from all types of schools and traditions and regions, but they shared the same ideal and worked for the common causes: peace keeping in the country and prosperity of the societies. This is one of the reasons that the Tokugawa Shogunate could last for 265 years.

The onmitsu of the shinobi samurai order

We want to follow suit with our ancestors on a transnational scale. But becoming an “onmitsu (shinobi samurai)” is not our goal. Our purpose is to help realize and keep international friendship. That’s why we become an onmitsu of this order. The Warring States Era ninjutsu were mainly tonjutsu (art of escape) and that of survival, but the ninjutsu for the onmitsu is johjutsu (情術:art of communication, psychological techniques). The onmitsu see to it that they are not noticed when they work to bring about harmony to any given situation in view of international friendship. We are going to introduce our ideas to our new members. When we have people from different backgrounds, we need to get to know each other and make efforts to share the same mindsets and values. We will build relations of trust among us.

So, we ask our members to report on places of interest in his/her country. When we read a report, we can get to know the contributor a bit better. After completion of certain numbers of reports, the correspondent shinobi advances to a higher rank of onmitsu. Then we ask the person to include some particular information in his/her following reports. We don’t talk about martial arts so much, as martial arts training do not make people onmitsu. Martial arts training is one of the ways to get to Ku (no-self). So are many other paths to get there. A street vendor or hitch-hiker can be excellent intelligence agents without so much of martial arts knowledge. Training in self defense may be recommended. We, the members. are the onmitsu, and we contribute to the society by providing information the general public may be interested in. Active shinobi who can collect and analyse information are our assets.

Of course, there are other types of shinobi who just train themselves or instruct students, etc in our clan. Those are supporting shinobi to the active ones who collect information, as we have divisions of work. In this research center, everyone is expected to submit at least one report a year.