• Rose Dela Cruz



Today, I'd like to share with you this pencil drawing that I made. It's inspired by Ayame, a female ninja in a videogame called Tenchu.

Maybe you've heard of the word kunoichi, which refers to female ninja. What does the word kunoichi mean?

When I asked my Japanese friend, her initial response was to write the kanji for 'woman': 女. She pronounced each component that makes up this character: く(ku), ノ(no), 一(ichi). "What does it mean, though?" I asked. "Hmm...I wonder?" she replied.

So I went to do some Internet digging!


Dig, dig dig...

Turns out, it's a fricking rabbit hole of theories (in Japanese)!!

So before I get lost, I'll just come back up and share a gist of what I found:

1. Although it's generally known to refer to female ninjas in cartoons, movies, games and novels - the word itself doesn't have that definition.

2. According to ninja texts that were compiled during the Edo period, it's secret ninja code for 'woman'. However this didn't explicitly mean "female ninja".

3. There's another theory that relates to the human body...but I couldn't confirm if it's rooted in Onmyoudo (old Japanese occult divination system based on Yin and Yang; now prohibited) or Taoism. And tbh I don't want to explain it. XD

4. It was coined from a Japanese novel about ninja by Yamada Fuutarou.

And there we have it!