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FUJITA SEIKO: LAST OF THE KOGA NINJA



The Obituary of Fujita Seiko: Japanese Original and English Translation

 

Nikkan Kanko Newspaper

14th January, Showa (1966)

(courtesy of Sam Moldezki - http://www.shitoryu.org)

Translated by Makoto Tomizuka

“The Last Ninja Disappears”
“A summary of the life of Seiko Fujita, Koga-ryu Ninjutsu 14th Generation”
 
“The last Ninja who lived in a modern society.” On 4th January 1966, Seiko Fujita, Koga ryu Ninjutsu 14th generation inheritor, passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver at his house, Nezu 1-24-3, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. Because he did not have an inheritor, orthodox Ninja and Nijutsu essentially ceased to exist in Japan. The article below summarizes the life of the last Ninja.

“Ending A Life of 66 Years”
Fujita’s funeral was held at noon on the 11th January, at Kano-in Temple in Daito-ku (Tokyo). Like Konishi (Shindo Munen-ryu Kenjutsu) who was the chairperson of the funeral committee, Japanese traditional martial artists lined up for the funeral of the last Ninja. Due to the appearance of Ninja actors, who performed very much like actual Ninja, in TV and movies in the Ninja boom last year, people no longer believed in Ninjutsu as a technique which simply “makes oneself disappear by executing IN (interlacing fingers).” Nonetheless, it is doubtful that ordinary people understood real Ninjutsu techniques, such as one in which one could enter and exit 20 centimeter chinks in the wall. Ninjutsu, which was effectively used in the disturbances of war, is unnecessary and unrealistic to modern people now, although they value Ninja stories on TV, in movies, or novels for the purpose of entertainment. It is perhaps difficult for us to believe in the existence of Ninja, due to the inapplicability of Ninjutsu in our daily life.

“No Inheritor: Putting an End to Ninja by the Fujita’s Generation”
According to Fujita’s book, Doron Doron, unless one had great patience and was right-minded, one could not master Ninjutsu. In order to be a Ninja, one needed to have dedicated a lifetime of practice and had to master many martial arts (Fujita was the third generation of Nanban Satto-ryu, a master of Shingetsu-ryu Shurikenjutsu, a master of Daien-ryu Jojutsu, and a master of Ichiden-ryu Hojojutsu). In addition, one could not be taught Ninjutsu unless one was right-minded due to the usage of dangerous poisons that were used for assassinations, some of which could cause death in quantities as small as single drop.

“Difficulties to Get a Ninja Qualification”
If a wicked person were able to learn Ninjutsu, there would be a lot of thieves like Goemon Ishikawa who was one of the cleverest thieves in Japan. Because of this sort of reasoning, a Ninja never taught Ninjutsu to anyone, even his own child, if he believed that his child was not mentally and physically talented enough to be a Ninja. Therefore, unlike Kenjutsu or Jujutsu which were developed during wartime under the pressure of necessity, Ninjutsu gradually disappeared as time passed. Recently, Fujita, who was the last Ninja in Japan, passed away. As a result, Ninja have disappeared forever from this world.

“An Inimitable Swashbuckler: Fighting with A Saber on His Hand at the Age of Six”
Fujita’s ancestor worked for the Shogun as a secret agent and their leader was attached to the shogunate and lived around Koga-cho, Kanda, Chiyota-ku in Tokyo at the current address. Morinosuke Fujita, who was Seiko’s father, was an expert in apprehending criminals using the techniques of Hojojutsu. He worked as a detective at the Metropolitan Police Department Investigation, until he retired in Meiji 45, during which time he caught famous criminals and Peeping Toms. In addition, he was credited for catching eight condemned criminals and 25 other criminals who were sentenced to imprisonment for life. He was the person whom people mentioned in a song, “Detective Fujita is scarier than ogres, demons, and monsters.” Shintasaemon, Fujita’s grandfather, was the 13th generation of Koga-Ryu Ninja. Fujita had learned Ninjutsu techniques such as Hokojutsu (walking techniques) and Choyaku-Jutsu (jumping techniques) from his grandfather since he was three or four. There was an episode (described by a friend of Fujita’s) about Fujita’s childhood;
“Fujita was six years old when his father worked at a police substation in Oume, [Tokyo].  
One day, Fujita saw his brother beaten up by naughty boys and came back home with his ears bleeding.  
Fujita pulled out a katana which was hanging on the wall in a room and went looking for revenge. 
He swung the katana around toward those naughty boys who were screaming and running away and neighbors 
who rushed to come to the place after hearing these kids screaming.  
The neighbors knocked his katana down and caught him.   
He hurt 11 people in total.”
This incident was not made public because it was done by the six years old boy. However, Fujita’s father shaved Seiko’s head to show his apologies to public and sent him to a temple in Itsuka-shi.

“Hard Training in Ninjutsu; Learned from His Grandfather”
If Fujita were an ordinary child, he would have been quiet after the incident, however, he was back to being mischievous within a few months. While the chief priest of the Buddhist temple was away, Fujita invited his naughty friends into the main building of the temple. They rang the temple bell and a wood block as much as they wanted. They took the statue of the Buddha down and put horse manures instead. Sometimes, they put wax on a hallway and made monks slip over on the hallway. At another time, Fujita surprised those monks by making fireworks. After giving the monks a great deal of trouble, he was sent back home, after approximately one year at the temple. In testimony of people who were close to him, Fujita began to learn Ninjutsu officially from his grandfather right after came back home from the temple. Although his grandfather was soft on Fujita usually, he was very strict about teaching Ninjutsu. Fujita often got injured during practice, however, he continued practicing Ninjutsu by bracing himself up for a fight. Before the age of thirteen when he lost his grandfather in fall, his grandfather taught him the basis of Koga ryu. Off course meanwhile, Fujita continued to be mischievous. He surprised other people by fighting with Yakuza and such antics as jumping from a second floor at school. Before his grandfather died, he called Fujita at his bedside and gave two volumes of Ninja scrolls. When he gave it to Fujita, his final words were; “the orthodox Koga ryu will be ended after you.” After the death of his grandfather, Fujita tried to complete his Ninjutsu training so as not to disappoint his grandfather. Two months later, Fujita left home to live with Yamabushi. He spent a lot of time in practice and to improve his self-defense techniques, noon and night. He mastered Ninjutsu gradually.

“If he drunk sake, he could drink eight bottles and half (14.6 liters); he ate 25 bowls of plain buckwheat noodles in soup”
By the way, Fujita, a daredevil, was to be reckoned with in good form as usual. After graduating from Soujitsu in 1914, he enrolled in Waseda University, Tokyo University and Meiji University. However, he was kicked out from these universities due to his violent behavior. He finally earned a degree in religions from Nippon University in 1919. Not only he was enrolled at these universities, but also did he work as a journalist in newspaper publishing companies such as the Houchi, the Hibi, the Yamato, the Kokumin, and the Chugai. In addition to that, he was teaching Judo and Kendo. Fujita was not just a daredevil; it seemed that he was intelligent too. He held professional positions in teaching at Toyama School, Rikudai (the abbreviation for a university of the Army), and Kaidai (the abbreviation for a university of Navy) after he graduating from Nippon University. Until recently, he was a trustee of Nihon Kobudo Koushin Kai. At an exhibition of Kobudo which was held once in a year, he presented a wealth of his knowledge and his experiences for the audience to understand what Kobudo was in general. Before Fujita died, he stated, “One has to spend one’s whole life practicing Ninjustu. There is no completion in one’s practice. In fact, I have practiced martial arts for fifty years, but I still need to practice more. Based on his statement, it was clear that he demanded a great deal of himself. This was the reason why he was called “the last Ninja.” Many people introduced themselves as Ninja to take advantage of the trend of the recent Ninja boom. However, Fujita claimed that they were not real Ninja. If they had a long cloth around their neck while they were running 60 kilometers in a day, which Ninja considered as a walk, it would be interesting to know how many of them could run without touching the tip of the cloth on the ground.

“Eating Bricks”
Ninja ate a special kind of food frequently to kill body odor, so that they could keep from being smelled by their enemy. There is perhaps no possibility among those people, who claimed themselves as Ninja, that they could fast and gorge themselves with food and drink like Fujita, who had records of drinking eight bottles and half (14.6 liters) and eating 25 bowls of plain buckwheat noodles in soup. In case of eating voraciously, Ninja could control involuntary muscles in the stomach via special training. It was understandable that people considered Fujita “eccentric” in view of his eccentric behavior. Fujita’s eccentric episodes never ended. For example, he was worshiped as a “living god.” At other times, he terrified the Yakuza, who picked up a fight with him, by forcing them to eat flesh of his thigh after he cut out, himself. At another time, he competed against a huge man for physical strength. At that time, the huge man weighted 157.5 kilograms and claimed himself as “the most powerful man in the world.” It was unfortunate that Ninjutsu, which was a unique Japanese martial art, died away.

“People Who Were Closed to Fujita Mourned His Death: A Funeral Service amidst the Hush of Deep Sorrow on 11th”
Zenya Kunii (a master of Kagoshima Shinto Ryun Kenjutsu), who was a friend of Fujita, attended his funeral and said, “as a consequence of Fujita’s death, Ninjutsu completely disappeared. Because he was also famous for researching ancient writings, we deplored his death more than we could say. However, we believe in the immortality of his soul. We believe that his spirit will guide us including his descendants in a good way somehow.” Nanban Satto ryu Kenpo was passed to Manzo Iwata as the 4th generation soke, after Fujita who was the 3rd generation soke. Iwata commented that “we were under the care of our teacher [Fujita] not just in martial arts, but, also in all ways. Losing him suddenly before we repaid his generosity and courtesy was like we lost an important thing in our mind. However, we will overcome this sadness and continue developing the traditional martial arts (Kobudo) with all our efforts. Ryushou Sakagami, a master of Shito ryu Karate, looked dejected and said that “Fujita was the last person who was fully perservering in his training. All Ninjutsu including Koga ryu Ninpo has disappeared forever.” People who attended Fujita’s funeral were Ryuji Kiyomizu/Shimizu (Shindo Muso ryu jodo), Sei Kobayashi (Toda-ha Buko-ryu Naginata), Toki Ikeda (Tendo-ryu Naginata), Masaru Watanabe (Kenyuu/Genyuu-ryu Karate), Akira/Toshi Saitou (Kongan-ryu Shuriken), Kiyonobu Ogasawara (Ogasawa-ryu Kyujutsu), Motokatsu Inoue (Okinawa Kobudo Karate), Masatoshi Katsutani (Tanihashitan-ryu Karate), Hon Reik (Muso-ryu Jojutsu), Jjusei Ono (Ono-ha Itto-ryu). In all cases, these people were highly qualified in martial arts.

Captions
Fujita who was called as the last Ninja.

Fujita during his lifetime: In order to show the spirit of Ninja, he pierced his body with so many needles, that even yoga ascetics were dumbfounded.

The secret scroll of Ninja.

Ninja standing up quietly and his dark shadow casting on the fusuma (a papered sliding door). Ninja typically appeared this way.

Manzo Iwata, Fujita’s uchi deshi, who became the 4th generation soke of Nanban Satto ryu kenpo.

The funeral was held in Kano-in Temple at Yasunaka, Tokyo.

The Last Koga Ninja

In 1959, Fujita wrote a book, which he titled Doronron: Saigo No Ninja (The Last Ninja), recounting how his grandfather had passed on the secrets of his family Koga Ryu Wada Ha system to him. The book title, which was published 11 years after Fujita elevated Iwata to the position of soke of Nanban Sato Ryu Kenpo and Shingetsu Ryu Shurikenjutsu, implies that even at this late date, he had not passed his Koga Ryu Wada Ha system onto any of his students or martial arts colleagues.

Additional support for this conclusion is also available in a 1963 interview with the official authority on the history of Japanese martial traditions, the Bugei Ryuha Daijten, which at the time was gathering information from the heads of various traditional Japanese martial arts systems for its updated publication. The interview appeared in the 1963 edition of Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, and was again reprinted in the 1978 annotated and revised edition, which was authored by Watatani Kiyoshi and Yamada Tadashi. The interview with Fujita took place in his capacity as the inheritor of Koga Ryu Wada Ha. The entry of Fujita's information for the Koga Ryu Wada Ha, which appears on the top of page 273, is as follows: "This ryu is one of the 53 Koga families. Moreover, this ryuha is one of the Minamiyama Rokke of only 6 families, and nobody knows this ryuha." Watatani then attributes the quote to "Fujita Seiko, 1963."

In the 1978 revision, Watatani then summarized and reflected upon Fujita's information: "So here Fujita Seiko was the last soke of this ryuha and it was one of 6 ryu that belonged to the Minamiyama Rokke, maybe 6 strong families or an organization." He ends his reflection in a very telling way by writing, "also, nobody knows this ryuha today. I think he never taught it." This is a damning verdict from a man who is the author of Japan's official "Martial Arts Directory," a publication that is considered the authority in all matters of Japanese martial arts. This statement by Watatani, absent outright and validated evidence contradicting it, must be considered martial arts canon.

There are two additional entries that mention Fujita, one on the bottom of page 921, that is simply entered as "Wada Ryu," and which is said to be the same as Koga Ryu Wada Ha. The entry mentions that a "Wada Iga Morishinori founded the ryu, [and that] Fujita Seiko is a descendent of his." The entry provides a very compelling piece of evidence that the Koga Ryu Wada Ha was transmitted through Fujita's family, and coincides with the evidence that he genuinely believed he was soke of the last Koga ninja tradition. In another entry, on page 273, Fujita makes an "educated guess" about another school, saying it was known as "Wada To." Watatani then states that in his opinion this was only a guess, which is testimony to the fact that Fujita's expertise extended only to Koga Ryu Wada Ha, a fact which is starkly at odds with those fraudulent claimants who make generic claims that Fujita was soke of Koga Ryu as a general system.

The most interesting information that emerges from Watatani's interview, however, is Fujita's clear insistence that he had not taught the system to anyone, and Watatani's subsequent conclusion that Fujita was the last soke of Koga Ryu Wada Ha. The impact of such a statement, to an authority of the nature of the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, is clear. The entry of the statement into the record, whether factual or not, would relegate all future claimants to a linear inheritance of the system to the ranks of charlatans and con artists.

There can be only one reasonable conclusion, for reasons that may never be entirely clear, that Fujita, a man who had spent his entire life practicing and trying to preserve the traditional martial arts of Japan, had just three short years before his death, unalterably decided he would be, as his 1959 book declared, "The Last (Koga) Ninja." The question then, is why was he was so intent on a course of action that seemed so at odds with his life's work? What was it about this Koga Ryu Wada Ha that made it so different from his other martial arts systems of Dai En Ryu Jojutsu, Nanban Sato Ryu Kenpo and Shingetsu Ryu Shurikenjutsu? The answer may lie in the unique nature of Ninjutsu. The evidence to support this conclusion has emerged from records of another interview that took place two years before Fujita died

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