Hensojutsu Disguise and Impersonation

The Ninjutsu | What is Ninjutsu | Ninjutsu Description | History of Ninjutsu | Who is a Ninja | Traditional Ninjutsu | The Ninja | Art of Ninjutsu | Ninjutsu Weapons | Ninja Silent Assassins | Ninja’s Mikkyo Mind | Bujinkan Ninjutsu | Rules of the Bujinkan | Ninjutsu and Koryu Bujutsu | Ninjutsu Arts Strategy

Hensojutsu (変装術, Hensojutsu) was a Japanese martial art skill involving disguise, impersonation, and infiltration. In some ninja clans it was known as the “Shichi Ho De” (七方出, “Shichi Ho De”?) or, “seven ways of going” (one form of ninjutsu that has a person play a role much like an actor does in impersonating people).

A ninja had to appear either as a priest, samurai, merchant, craftsman, performer, puppeteer, or farmer. To accomplish this, the ninja was a well studied sociologist observing people in other towns for long periods of time until (just like actors) ninja blended into the crowd. They acted like either one of the major classes to spy on people. Ninja thus sometimes carried one or two costumes to look like the other classes.

This is different from other methods in that the ninja needs only to appear like someone else for a short period of time. Ninja typically must learn the character traits of another class quickly and then impersonate the members of that class.

For instance, if workers were walking in large numbers toward a worksite, using this skill the ninja observes the worker, copies the same clothing and walking style of the workers, then follows the crowd in just like the other workers. A good ninja ought to be able to impersonate anybody in terms of appearance.

A ninja would often have dark clothes stitched onto the inside of a normal looking peasant’s outfit, so that he would simply reverse the clothes and immediately have his camouflage garb. For hiding in brush or bushes, elastic fibers on the ninja’s clothes allow for branches and grasses to be attached, helping break up the ninja’s outline.

Animal morphing: Part of this was to tie carved wooden pads to the feet to lay tracks of animals or children so the ninja couldn’t be tracked easily.

Tonpo: Hensojutsu is a sub-category of the “thirty methods of becoming invisible/escape” – it is a part of the Jintonpo (人遁法, Jintonpo) – or “Use of People Method of attaining invisiblity”.