The Order of Musashi Shinobi Samurai is a Japanese shinobisamurai clan which served Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Edo Shogunate from 1582 to 1868. When the political system changed due to the restoration of the monarchy in 1868, it became independent. The order consists of a number of families and people who have built close relations of trust with the Shibata Clan of the Musashi Province.
In 1582 the Shibatas and their relatives became retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the prominent feudal lords of the time, and moved into Edo (present day Tokyo) in 1590. They served the Edo Shogunate government founded by Ieyasu as intelligence operatives called “onmitsu” (undercover agents), and “metsuke” (inspectors), and in the 19th century, as diplomats. After the Meiji Restoration of 1868, declining the offer from the Meiji Government, it became a private organization to maintain its shinobisamurai traditions.
It was a closed clan for over 450 years and kept its arts hidden, but turned to open its door to the public in 2006. It has become an NPO and now engaged in introducing the ninja and samurai cultures of the Clan Shibata with seminars, experiences and workshops, as well as the advocacy of its philosophy, now termed Ninshido which was developed by their ancestors under the shogunate.
The definition of “shinobisamurai”
According to Mansenshukai (Bansenshukai) authored by Fujibayashi Sabuji Yasutake in 1676, there were two types of shinobi, namely shinobisamurai and shinobinomono. The shinobisamurai were samurai who trained their peasants and the locals to work as shinobinomono and contracted for shinobi services from feudal lords. The shinobinomono didn’t have warrior backgrounds. The two Japanese characters used by the author for the term “shinobisamurai” (忍士) can be also read “ninshi”.
In the order, the term “shinobisamurai” refers to the samurai who used to engage in shinobi activities during the Warring State Period. And after 1600, those who served the Shogunate are referred to as “ninshi”.
The shinobijutsu (ninjutsu) of the order
The traditional understanding of shinobijutsu in the order is that it is not a martial art but a collection of strategic techniques to collect intelligence without being noticed. The shinobi arts handed down in the order are: the clan martial arts, weapon crafting, performing arts, equestrian arts, shinobi medicine, explosives and language education. Thus each member chooses his/her art(s) to focus on. As shinobi’s missions are to gather information that shinobi do not need to be martial artists. There are variety of shinobi classes, namely, bugei(martial arts)-shinobi, gigei(performing arts)-shinobi, tokumu(special duty)-shinobi, etc. depending on the expertise of the shinobi.
The ideology of the order
The ideology of the organization is termed Kyohmei (共鳴) spirit, and its ninpo is called “Gorin ninpo (五輪忍法). Ninpo is a fundamental philosophy to indicate how techniques should be applied. The teamwork guideline is expressed by the four characters: “Lin fuh lai in” (林風雷陰(隠) signifying “Act quietly and fast, get results instantly without being noticed.” Guidelines, systems, and methods are taught for each shinobi member to gradually shift his/her expertise of jutsu (art) to one based on Do (Way).
The order has a shinobisamurai origin. The history of the order goes back to the mid-16th century.
On the 4th of June in 1582, right after Honnō-ji Incident 本能寺の変, the clan ancestors, Shibata Suwo and Nagamochi Tokuzo, escorted Tokugawa Ieyasu by the request form Hattori Hanzo, retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Together with other Iga and Koka shinobi, they guarded Ieyasu to Ise where Ieyasu and his retainers boarded a ship and eventually arrived at the Okazaki Castle in Mie successfully.
Since then the Igamono shinobisamurai started to serve Ieyasu, and the Shibata-Nagamochi clan officially became retainers of Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582. They became Iga “dōshin” (shinobi police constable) and belonged to Hattori Iganokami group.
They moved to Edo (in Musashi region) in 1590 with Tokugawa Ieyasu and thereafter served the Tokugawa Shogunate till 1868.
The two families reestablished themselves as a new clan-order in Musashi Region.
1582-1833: “Era of Edo Onmitsu Ninshi”
The definition of the Edo Ninshi
The ninshi are the samurai operatives (metsuke) and samurai who engaged in covert (onmitsu) activities for the Edo Tokugawa Shogunate, and those who became key to intelligence activities in Europe as envoys.
At the beginning of Edo period the first generations in Edo served in the Interior of the Edo Castle, as Hiroshikiban to guard the shogun’s private quarters in addition to working as onmitsu (intelligence operatives).
The eighth shogun Yoshimune created a division of oniwaban. Yoshimune also had an intention of changing the status of onmitsu to be like that of oniwaban, that is to say, they would serve the shogun directly. By the Bakumatsu period the order formed strong relations with the oniwaban families through marriages.
Under the 11th shogun, the head of the Shibata family, Jinshiro, was transferred to work in the shogunate’s Gakumonsho (shogunate university) in 1802. The time was just after the shogunate introduced a meritocracy system and shinobisamurai started to place importance in academic achievement. Shibata Junzo received an award for his academic excellence in 1822 and was promoted to belong to the Hasei Goemon Group. In 1823 he became metsuke. In the 19th century the shogunate changed the recruitment system and opened offices to talent, this provided the trigger for the shinobisamurai to study.
1853-1868: “Era of Bakumatsu Ninshi”
The most noteworthy contributions to the society made by the members were done during the Bakumatsu period. There are two outstanding Edo ninshi personalities worthy of mention.
Shibata Sadataro Takenaka
Shibata Sadataro Takenaka (柴田 貞太郎 剛中, 1823–1877)
In 1842 Shibata became metsuke (inspector).
In 1843, awarded for his excellence in martial arts and the result in Gakumon Ginmi examination by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
In 1858 Shibata became chief of staff in the gaikoku bugyo (foreign affairs department). Negotiated the matters regarding the opening of the Port of Yokohama, and finally managed to open the port to the world. Also assumed a leading position to negotiate with the delegations from the States and from Europe. His younger brother, Nagamochi Kohjiro was transferred to work in Nagasaki Bugyohsho (Nagasaki Magistrate’s office) to help Shibata with his work.
His first visit to Europe was in 1862 as one of the principal members of the First Japanese Embassy to Europe . His nephew Nagamochi Goroji accompanied Shibata to Europe as his attendant.
During the 1862 mission, Shibata was chief of staff and first secretary. In fact, Shibata was one of the heads of the mission and participated directly in the negotiations, but he did not express himself, he was there as an observer, he listened and took notes. On his return to Japan, he was to report on the progress of the mission and the behaviors of the negotiators. In fact, he was the key person for intelligence gathering in Europe. The newspapers of the time referred to him as “the shadow”. Shibata negotiated with European governments and companies while conducting reconnaissance work.
In 1863, he became gaikoku bugyo (commissioner of foreign affairs). His first assignment was to go to Hakodate to negotiate with a Russian consul general Iosif Antonovich Goskevich regarding the opening of Japanese ports.
In 1865, the Shibata Mission was dispatched to Europe. Shibata stationing in Paris for a year, requested that both the United Kingdom and France send a military mission for training in Western warfare on behalf of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The UK declined, but the French accepted. This led to the first French military mission to Japan from 1867 to 1868, which Shibata organized.
He became in charge of the opening of the Port of Kobe, and had piers, residential areas for foreigners, and Tokugawa-do (Tokugawa Road) constructed.
In 1868, he declared the Port of Kobe open to the world in front of foreign delegations.
Nagamochi Kohjiro Yoshiaki
Nagamochi Kohjiro Yoshiaki (永持 享次郎 穀明, 1826 – 1864)
In 1844 Passed the Gakumon Ginmmi of the Shogunate.
In 1845 Nagamchi was appointed to work in Gamumonsho (Shogunate University).
In 1849, Nagamochi became metsuke (inspector).
In 1853, made a reconnaissance, as a Russian frigate “Diana” came in Nagasaki.
In 1855, was transferred from the Nagasaki Naval Training Center to Nagasaki Bugyo Magistrate Office to assume the responsibility of chief of staff.
Started the first school in Nagasaki to teach English.
In October, 1855, visited a Russian admiral, Putyatin, and negotiated on the additional terms of the Russo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce, and finalized a general agreement except for the attribution of Sakhalin and the handling of indigenous people at Gyokusenji Temple in Shimoda. The construction of Nagasaki Iron Mill started and Nagamochi was appointed to take charge of general affairs accounting.
In 1857, visited Jan Hendrik Donker Curtius, the director of the Dutch trading house in Dejima, Nagasaki, and learned the details of the Opium War in China, and reported it to Nagasaki Bugyo Magistrate.
In 1860, reconnaissance work in April, after a Russian Frigate “Posadonik” appeared in Tsushima. In 1861, dispatched to Tsushima due to the occupation attempts by the Russian troop which arrived on the “Posadonik” and negotiated their withdrawal with the Russian captain Billilev.（Posadonik Incident) 
In 1863, became president of foreign affairs delegation and commander of foot soldiers. In 1864, Transferred to Kyoto as metsuke to be under the direct command of the 15th Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, to guard the Imperial Palace leading 212 samurai.
Shibata Toku (柴田 とく, 1843?? – ??)
On November 9, 1867, Taisei Hokan (大政奉還) (restoration of the government to the crown) took place and the clan became secluded.
After 1868: “Era of modern ninshi”
The Order of Shinobi Samurai has defined the modern ninshi as “a person with expertise, belongs to the organization, finds and assembles information, and works for a common goal while walking the path of Harmony (和）” The order is open to all who can abide by the order creed.
Nagamochi Gorohji Akinori (永持 五郎次 明徳, 1845 – 1903)
Learned Dutch and accompanied his uncle Shibata Sadataro Takenaka to visit Europe in 1862 as a member of the First Japanese Embassy to Europe. After returning to Japan he became a French teacher and Japanese Army lieutenant colonel. He was the Japanese father-in-law of a French captain Jules Brunet. In 1891 became the first president of Tokugawa Ikueikai Ikueigaku school, the predecessor of the present Tokyyo University of Agriculture.
Shibata Soyo (柴田 そよ, 1876 – ??)
Shibata Sen’ichi Tatsunojo (柴田 専一 龍之丞, 1888 – 1956)
In 1917 Shibata Sen’ ichi Tatsunojo reformed the order as he joined the Salvation Army. He instructed the order to be a secret society for 50 years after his death.
Shibata Jin’ichi Tetusbunsai (柴田 仁一 鉄聞斎, 1928 – 2016)
In 1951 Shibata Jin’ichi Tetsubunsai reorganized the order as Musashi Clan and opened a workshop to teach the shinobi family arts.
Shibata Kiyomi Suzak (柴田 清美 朱雀, 1951 –) In 2006, Jidai Academy was established by the order in Tabata, Tokyo after the 50th memorial of Sen’ichi Tatsunojo. Their family arts were named Musashi-Shibata-ryu.
For decades the order has systematized its traditions, and codified them as the fundamental principles and guidelines. In 2019 its fundamental philosophy was presented as “The Code of Shinobi Samurai, or“Ninshido” in the annual congress of the International Ninja Research Association. In 2014 the Academy became an LLC Musashi Ichizoku.
In 2017 the Headquarters was moved to Shibakoen, Minato, Tokyo (Japan Society for the Promotion of Machinery Industry Building 機会振興会館)
In 2019, The Order of Musashi Shinobi Samurai, NPO (Musashi Ninshidan NPO法人 武蔵忍士団) was founded by Kazuhiro Aizawa, Kiyomi Shibata, and Mayumi Shindo and 7 other members. The vision of the NPO is a sustainable and peaceful world where every person thrives, and the present purpose of the order is to contribute to the public interest by conducting projects related to promoting culture and international exchange besides its century-old aim of training its members to be full-fledged shinobi.
In the same year the order established its transnational research center with Kenryu Hayek (chief administrator) and Ulises Villa Huesca. The research center fortifies the ninshi think tank by providing information throughout the world. Intelligence gathering has been historically the main mission of the shinobi order.
In 2021 an NPO in Europe was established with the name Ninshidan Europe as Sven Kristjan Kreisberg as chairman.
The order advocates Ninshido as a valid framework for today and for the future.
The Development of Ninshido
In 2019 an academic presentation titled “Ninshido: The New paradigm of the Order of Shinobi Samurai” was made by Kazuhiro Aizawa and Kiyomi Shibata (The NPO Musashi Order of Shinobi Samurai), at the 4th annual convention of the International Ninja Research Association in Nagano in 2019.
According to Mansenshukai(Bansenshukai), the shinobi’s ethics was “seishin” (正心 right-mindedness), which encouraged the shinobi to be loyal to their feudal clients and not to use their arts for themselves. But this was not enough for the shinobsamurai to serve the shogunate, as “seishin” could be used as justifications of arbitrary conducts.
With the introduction of the Gakumon Ginmi (学問吟味) recruitment exams in 1792 by the shogunate, it is obvious that examinees who took the examinations acquired knowledge of how to govern society and ethical norms based on Confucianism and neo-Confucianism. Those ideas were combined with the old shinobi mindsets that new ninshi philosophical ideas started to develop emphasizing on neo-Confucianist virtues. This took place before the introduction of Bushido by Nitobe Inazo.
In 1989, the fundamental philosophy was named Kyohmei (共鳴 Empathetic Resonance) and Mizu kagami (水鏡 Water Mirror), and the ultimate purpose of the members training was to be one with ku (空 large universe) or “無我 no-self”.
The order maintains that ninshido has evolved and has adapted to changes that the ninshi traditions have survived to this date.
The ninshido has constructed an effective and practical educational system to teach a collection of strategies called “Gorin ninpo (五輪忍法) and the Kyohmei guideline”.
Through training in the order, the ninshi candidates efficiently learn to integrate their mental and physical strengths, which will cultivate the ninshi’s inner fortitude to be equanimous under any circumstance. The ninshi education helps to develop a more positive shinobi paradigm in the world as well as to help mold members personalities. The timeless ninshi wisdom can be effectively utilized in this modern age. 
1868-1917 Reconnaissance work
1917-1951 Transmission of family arts to the members (closed to the public)
weapon crafting, martial arts, mining, yamagake
1951-2006 Transmission of family arts to the members at Yokohama workshop
weapon crafting, martial arts, mining, yamagake
2007-2017 Management of a Martial arts dojo “Jidai Academy” in Tabata
The order has become a small think and do tank following the footsteps of the ninshi forefathers to work for world peace. This organization provides the public with seminars, workshops, events for the purpose of promoting culture, international exchange, tourism, etc., and with projects related to information gathering.
2019 Published an academic textbook for interpreter-students featuring the memory training used in shinobi training of the order.
- Keep a water mirror in your heart and resonate with compassion.
- Know invariable natural laws, and make use of opportunities.
- Be unwavering and harmonious, and survive to fulfill your mission.
- Observe and act with no sound, no scent, and expect no recognition.
Densho Scroll, Menkyo, Kuden
Densho (伝書）usually takes a form of “makimono” (巻物 scroll) where the teaching and knowledge of the school are written and/or drawn.
Menkyo (免許) means “license.” It refers to the license to teach used by practitioners of Japanese classical arts and martial arts certifying some license within the school or ryū. Upon receiving a menkyo each practitioner swears not to reveal the secret arts and signs it.
Kuden (口伝) is a method of orally transmitting information. Especially in our weapon crafting, the techniques are shown, and explained orally from masters to students.
Den-I (伝位) Ranks by Scroll Titles
- Kirigami: entery level. After learning 5 basic principles.
- Mokuroku: certificate, and entered into official rolls.
- Makimono: Scroll, Menkyo: License.
- Shoden:experience: 3-5 years.
- Chuden:experience: over 5 years.
- Okuden Menkyo:experience: over 10 years.
- Sohden Menkyo:experience: over 20 years.
- Menkyo Kaiden:experience: over 30 years.
- Gokuden:Honorary licence to a holder of Menkyo Kaiden.
Recently dan-kyu system has been added for interpreter ranking
Gallery: Volunteer Activities
Record of major volunteer activities (seminars, workshop, demonstrations)
Gallery: Shinobi Tools and Weapons
Works by Shibata Tetsubunsai and Suzak
- Mansen Shukai
- Igamono Yushogaki 
- Tokugawa Jikki 
- Ninja Journal #3 Aug Issue 2020 
- Document by Shibata Taro [Institute of Historiography Tokyo University]
- Hokkai gakuen Academic Information Repository#156p
- Nagoya University Library
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gaiko Shiryo Kan 
- Shin Tokugawa Jikki Vol.5 
- Japon Moderne et France, National Diet Library
- Kobe City Archives
- Hokkaigakuen Academic Information Repository #156 p13,p15
- Nagasaki University Library 
- 長崎海軍伝習所 伝習生名簿
- Waseda University Repository 
- 150th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Japan and Russia 
- Ninja Journal #3 Aug Issue 2020 
- “9_3 永持少佐任陸軍砲兵中佐（防衛省防衛研究所）”. Japan Center for Asian Historical Records. Ref. C07080573800.
- 商標登録6247265 
- Ninshidan Europe MTÜ
- Ninja Journal #3 Aug Issue 2020 
- “NINJA KENKYU Journal of Ninja Studies No. 3, August 2020” published by The International Ninja Research Association
- MUSASHI NINJA CLAN
- MUSASHI NINJA CLAN Shinobi Samurai Honjin Dojo
- 近代デジタルライブラリー(国立国会図書館)National Diet Library Digital Collections
- 「現代語訳家康公伝」の構成”Biography of Ieyasu, translated into modern Japanese”
- [郡山良光『幕末日露関係史研究』（国書刊行会,1980年) https://iss.ndl.go.jp/books/R000000004-I2385346-00?locale=en]
- NPO法人 武蔵忍士団
- Ninja Reporter