[Image: mainichi_mie]

Ninja are mysterious. There are things we know and things we don’t. But the notion that some have about these ninja water shoes is supposedly incorrect.

In Japanese, these floatation devices are called mizugumo (水蜘蛛), which literally means “water spider,” and are believed to be used while crossing castle moats.

Sankei News reports that it’s generally thought that ninja would put their feet on each mizugumo’s center board and, literally, walk on water.

Which seems difficult.

Or, uh, pull themselves across.

Which also seems difficult.

Or it’s thought mizugumo could be used with poles.

However, according to ninja scholar Atsumi Nakajima, this isn’t how mizugumo were actually used.

Advertisement

Nakajima has been collecting old ninja documents and has discovered that the word “sit” (座る or suwaru) written in mizugumo’s middle section, which is where people have been putting their feet. They should’ve been sitting!

“Ninja would get in one mizugumo, put flipper-type shoes on their feet, and move across the water’s surface,” Nakajima believes.

[Image via Sankei News]

So, this is actually a floaty. For ninja. Heh.

Online in Japan, many people seemed surprised by this, adding that they thought the proper way to use a mizugumo seemed “dorky” and “uninspiring.”

Note that the floaty explanation isn’t exactly brand new.

Also, here’s an interesting mizugumo inner-tube build that’s based on The Book of Ninja, an English translation of Bansenshukai, from a while back.

Even though the notion that mizugumo were worn like shoes does still appear to dominate in Japan, this latest Sankei article might help change that!

As Kotaku previously pointed out, the popular notion of ninja isn’t always exactly “correct,” so it’s not surprising to see how popular culture has created a different interpretation of mizugumo.


Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Advertisement