Kunoichi (くノ一) is the term for a female ninja [cite book
last = Hayes
first = Stephen K.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Ninja and Their Secret Fighting Art
publisher = Tuttle Publishing
location =
pages = Page 16
url = http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0804816565&id=E2-ExmpupJQC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&ots=fZfQxcSZtj&dq=Kunoichi+female+ninja&sig=8DOA92qYzoRBG3BjlZQ4n3XwUqk
doi =
id = ISBN 0804816565
] or practitioner of Ninpo. [cite book
last = Morris
first = Glenn
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Shadow Strategies of an American Ninja Master
publisher = Frog
location =
pages = page 70
url = http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN1883319293&id=Prs4YZQRUz0C&pg=PA70&lpg=PA70&ots=euXsnTWpPM&dq=Kunoichi+female+ninja&sig=N61VkpDNdLPmnN3UugTgz-GKEgg
doi =
id = ISBN 1883319293

Derivation of the word "Kunoichi"

The term is thought to derive from the names of characters that resemble the three strokes in the kanji character for woman (女, onna); said in the order they are written: "ku" (く) - "no" (ノ) - "ichi" (一). Early literary quotes include nihongo|"Enshū Senkuzuke Narabi Nihyaku In"|遠舟千句附并百韵| (1680) as well as nihongo|"Maekuzukeshū"|前句付集| (1716), which specifically associates the word with the kanji 女 supporting the etymology. The "くノ一" writing requires the use of one character from each Japanese "alphabet" [ [http://gogen-allguide.com/ku/kunoichi.html 語源由来辞典] ] — first hiragana, then katakana, then kanji. While hiragana and kanji can exist in the same word, katakana generally cannot appear in conjunction with the others. There are exceptions to this, e.g. "ゴミ箱", "消しゴム".

Another proposed etymology would derive the term from 九能一 (能 "nō" : talent) with Japanese numbers "ku" (九) for "nine", and "ichi" (一) for "one", meaning "nine talents in one person", though no creditable source lists these "nine talents".

Kunoichi ways

Unlike in fiction (see next section), real-life kunoichi were trained differently than male ninja. Their training focused more on disguise, poisons, and using their gender to an advantage. While they were trained in close combat, they were only to make use of this knowledge when they were caught. They would usually disguise themselves as geisha, prostitutes, entertainers, fortunetellers, and the like to get very close to the enemy. It is thought that they would generally seduce the soon-to-be victim and when they get close enough, would poison them, but it is just as possible they would be disguised as a household servant, allowing them many opportunities to overhear information or get close to said victim.

Kunoichi would hide weapons in their disguise, like poisoned needles in their hair and dirks up their sleeves. They also often would turn a previously harmless item into a weapon. For example, they would learn how to break bones with their wooden shoes, put a hidden blade on their fan, or they would use an umbrella as a momentary shield.

In popular culture

Kunoichi have appeared frequently in popular culture, often as a literally female equivalent counterpart to male ninja.

Partial list of fictional kunoichi

Comic books and cartoons

* Chizu from the comic book "Usagi Yojimbo".
* Karai, head of the Japanese branch of the ninja organization Foot Clan from the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".
* , in the Asian-influenced animated series "".
* Miho from Frank Miller's comics "Sin City" (later a movie).
*Lotus Blossom, the lone female ninja-for-hire in the original TMNT cartoon.
* Misty from "My Life as a Teenage Robot".
* Psylocke from the Marvel Comics books "X-Men".
* from "".
* Yori (Kim Possible) from Disney's television series "Kim Possible".
* Elektra Natchios from the Marvel Comics books .
* Sakura Haruno from the "Naruto" "manga".

Film and TV series

* Asuka (飛鳥) in the film "Red Shadow".
* The Girl's Army/The Vixens from "Uchuu Keiji Shaider"/"VR Troopers".
* Haruka/Yellow Mask from "Hikari Sentai Maskman".
* Tsuruhime/Ninja White and the Flowery Kunoichi Team from "Ninja Sentai Kakuranger"
* Nanami Nono/HurricaneBlue, Furabijou and Windenu of "Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger".
* Shizuka of the Wind of "GoGo Sentai Boukenger.
* Kei Yamachi/Emiha from "Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya".
* "Kunoichi: Lady Ninja" is a Japanese film released in 1998.

Anime and manga

* Akeginu, Oboro, Ogen, Okoi, Kagerou and Hotarubi from "".
* Akira Okuzaki (尾久崎 晶), in the anime "My-HiME" and "My-Otome".
* Ayame Sarutobi, a shortsighted kunoichi from the manga/anime series, "Gintama".
* E-91 in Episode 17 of the anime "Sonic X".
* Ran Fan in the manga "Fullmetal Alchemist".
* Himawari, the female-lead in "Himawari!", a harem anime featuring kunoichi exclusively.
* Honey transforms into Kunoichi Honey in episode 24 in the anime "Cutey Honey".
* Imano Yatsuha in episode 15 of the anime Samurai Champloo.
* Kaede Nagase in "".
* Kagero (陽炎) in the anime film "Ninja Scroll".
* Konatsu, a male kunoichi from the manga "Ranma 1/2".
* Koyuki Azumaya in the anime "Sgt. Frog".
* Mahiro in the anime "Samurai Deeper Kyo".
* Megumi Oka (岡めぐみ) from the anime "Voltes V".
* Makimachi Misao in the manga and anime "Rurouni Kenshin".
* Miko Mido and other female ninja are depicted in the "La Blue Girl" series.
* Minky Momo transforms into Kunoichi Momo in episode 15 in the 1991 version of the anime "Magical Princess Minky Momo".
* Orin from the manga/anime "Akazukin Chacha".
* Sakura Haruno, Hinata Hyuga, Tenten, Ino Yamanaka, Temari, Kurenai Yuhi, Konan, Anko Mitarashi and Tsunade are the primary kunoichi in the ninja anime and manga series "Naruto".
* Yamame and Hotaru from "Kage Kara Mamoru!", another harem anime featuring many kunoichi and ninja.
* Shinobu, the heroine of the comedy anime "Ninin Ga Shinobuden"
*Soifon and Shihōin Yoruichi from the manga and anime "Bleach".
*Usagi Momochi, from the manga "Tail of the Moon".

Computer and video games

* Akane from the video game "Shining the Holy Ark".
* Ayame (彩女) and Rin (凛) in the video game series "Tenchu". There is also another Ayame in "Power Stone", and yet another Ayame in the video game "Suikoden III".
* Hibana (緋花), in the video game "Nightshade" ("Kunoichi" in Japan).
* Ibuki in the video game series "Street Fighter".
* Izuna, the title character from the video game "".
* Kaede in the video game "Onimusha".
* Tsuki-Kage, Kage-Maru's mother from "Virtua Fighter".
* Kasumi and Ayane in the video game series "Dead or Alive".
* Kat and Ana from the "WarioWare" series.
* a member of the Asuka Ninja clan featured in "".
* Kitana, Mileena and Jade in the video game series "Mortal Kombat".
* Kunimitsu in the game series "Tekken".
* Kunoichi in the video game "Samurai Warriors".
* Kurenai in the video game "Red Ninja".
* Mai Shiranui in the game series "Fatal Fury".
* Maki Genryusai from "Final Fight 2", "Capcom vs. SNK 2", and the GBA and PlayStation Portable versions of "Street Fighter Alpha 3".
* Mosu Ninja clan, a group of female mercenary kunoichi lead by the twin sisters in "".
*Nina in "Saboteur II".
*Shadow Yamoto, a ninja assassin skilled in Ninjutsu, and former member of the Black Orchid Corp in the video game "Eternal Champions" series.
* Sheena Fujibayashi in the game "Tales of Symphonia".
* Suzu Fujibayashi in the game "Tales of Phantasia".
* Taki in the game series "Soul".
* Yae in the video game series "Ganbare Goemon"
* Yuffie Kisaragi in "Final Fantasy VII".
* Yukimaru (雪丸), as well as a character class, in ""


* Shigure Kōsaka, weapons master at Ryōzanpaku and one of Kenichi's masters in the manga "Shijō Saikyō no Deshi Kenichi"
* A character class and an encountered enemy in "Valhalla Knights".
* Thomas Pynchon's novel "Vineland" features a community of kunoichi in California.

Real-life influences

* A women's football (soccer) team in Iga, Mie, Japan is called the "Iga Kunoichi" and plays in the Nadeshiko League, the national women's top flight.


*cite book |last=Hatsumi |first=Masaaki |authorlink=Masaaki Hatsumi |editor=Daniel M. Furuya |title=Ninjutsu: History and Tradition |year=1981 |publisher=Unique Publications |location=Hollywood |isbn=0-86568-027-2 |chapter=Kunoichi (Female Ninja) |page=224 |quote="The psychic and intuitive powers of female ninja were also relied upon when determining plans for future action based on the most likely developments in the enemy's strategy.

ee also

*Onna bugei-sha

External links

* [http://www.water.sannet.ne.jp/shinobi/index.htm 『甲賀流忍者軍団瀧組』(kou ka ryu nin ja gun dan takigumi)]

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