The History of

Togakure Ryu Ninpo

    So-o was the name of a monk at a monastery on Mount Hiei-zan.  As was a custom in those times he left his home to live for three years in a cave, subjecting himself to the hardship of nature in order to discover truth and enlightenment.  It was after a mysterious dream that he formed the Tendai Shugendo sect of Buddhism, and established the headquarters of the Tendai monastery at Hiei-zan. These monks still exist today and some are still engaged in Shugendo, or mountain asceticism: purifying one's self by trial and hardship.


    Near to Hiei-zan was a small village called Togakure, in the prefecture of Shinano.  Here in approximately 1161, Daisuke Nishina was born into a Samurai family.  Sometime during his early life, he studied at the Tendai monastery on Togakure Mountain (Mount Hiei-zan) near his village.  These early experiences were to play an important role later when Daisuke was to establish a system of fighting, survival and infiltration.


    It is important to understand the events leading up to the creation of Togakure Ryu Ninpo.  Daisuke Nishina's father was Yukihiro Nishina, who was a highly ranked samurai in the service of Lord Yoshinaka Minamoto, the cousin of the first Shogun of Japan.  When Yoshinaka Minamoto was only an infant, a samurai was sent from a rival family to kill him and his mother.  Yoshinaka's mother escaped with him and went secretly to the home of a farmer who was loyal to their family.  Yoshinaka was later brought to Kiso village in Shinano, not far from Togakure village.


    It was possibly because of this movement that Yukihiro Nishina of Togakure came into his service.  Years later, Yoshinaka's family had defeated their rivals and became rulers of Japan.  But they saw Yoshinaka as a threat to their leadership, and they turned on him.  Yoshinaka Minamoto changed his name to Yoshinaka Kiso, taking the name of the village where he lived, which was a common practice at the time.  In 1184, Yoshinaka was attacked by the army of his half-brother... sixty thousand warriors descended quickly upon Yoshinaka's army near Kyoto.  The battle was called Awaza no Kassan, and Yoshinaka Kiso was killed by an arrow in his eye.  On his side had fought Yukihiro Nishina of Togakure, who was also killed, and his son Daisuke Nishina, who survived.


    Daisuke, being on the losing side of this battle, was forced to flee into far-away Iga to escape persecution.  There he fled into the remote villages, hidden in the mists of a land of high mountains and thick forests.  He changed his name to Daisuke Togakure, after the village of his birth.


    While he was in Iga, Daisuke was found by Kagakure Doshi.  Kagakure Doshi was a shinobi, and the third soke of Hakuun Ryu, which was one of the original ninjutsu systems developed from the teachings of Ikai (Yi Gai, who brought the roots of koshijutsu from China).  It is also possible that Doshi was Daisuke's uncle, and that Daisuke fled to Iga with the intention of finding him.


    Daisuke Togakure learned Doshi's warrior teachings, and added them to his own Shugendo beliefs, and the beginnings of Togakure Ryu where forged.  But Daisuke was not alone studying under Kagakure Doshi.  With him was Shima Kosanta Minamoto no Kanesada.  He was a high level samurai retainer who had also fought at the battle of Awaza no Kassan, where he had become a friend to Daisuke and his father.  Shima was wounded in the fighting, and was taken by Daisuke to Iga.  Shima was to become the second soke of Togakure Ryu.  He took the name Daisuke Togakure II after Daisuke's death.  His son Goro Togakure, the third soke, is recognized as being the person who actually formed the teachings of Togakure into the Ninjutsu system that we learn today.  The 11th, 12th and 13th Soke of the Ryu are named after the main town of Iga, Ueno. Again, it was common in those days to be named after the town or village from which one came.  It is therefore likely that the Togakure Ryu was based at or near Ueno at that time.  Ueno is in north Iga, but Togakure Ryu mainly operated out of southern central Iga during most of its history.


    It is told that members of the Hattori clan trained in Togakure Ryu.  Hattori Hanzo is the most famous of all Ninja.  Also members of the Momochi family also trained in this system, and the 21st Soke of Togakure Ryu was Momochi Kobei, a descendant of Momochi Sandayu, the second most famous ninja and a leading figure of the Iga region.


    As with most martial traditions in earlier days, control of the system stayed within the family that founded it, and control of the style passed from father to son. With Togakure Ryu, it continued in this way for the most part until the 1600's.  When the immediate family died out, most senior member of the system was Nobutsuna Toda, who was given leadership and became the 24th Soke. When the Toda family took control in approximately 1625, they added their own ninjutsu system of Kumogakure Ryu to it.  They also controlled Gyokko Ryu and Koto Ryu, and from that time on, all those martial arts systems were then passed down together.


    The 32nd Soke of Togakure Ryu, Shinryuken Masamitsu Toda, was the sword instructor for the Tokugawa Shogunate in the mid 19th century.  He resigned his post when he learned that he was teaching men who were then forced to kill other Japanese people.  This went against the Law of Togakure Ryu.  The 33rd Soke, Toshitsugu Takamatsu, was the last member of the Toda family to control the Togakure Ryu.  Within the Tendai Shugendo sect, nearly a millennium after its founding by the monk So-o, the 33rd Soke of Togakure Ryu Toshitsugu Takamatsu was ordained on Mount Hiei-zan.


"Violence is to be avoided, and Ninpo is Bujutsu"


Soke of Togakure Ryu




          Sakabe, Tendo

          Hachiryu, Nyodo                     Tenei era     1110

          Kimon, Hyobei                       Ninpei era    1151

          Kasumigakure, Doshi

  1. Togakure (Nishina) Daisuke         Oho era       1161

  2. Minamoto no Kanesada, Shima Kosanta         1180

  3. Togakure, Goro                                              1200

  4. Togakure, Kosanta

  5. Koga, Kosanta

  6. Kaneko, Tomoharu

  7. Togakure, Ryuho

  8. Togakure, Gakuun

  9. Kido, Koseki

 10. Iga, Tenryu

 11. Ueno, Rihei

 12. Ueno, Senri

 13. Ueno, Manjiro

 14. Iizuka, Saburo

 15. Sawada, Goro

 16. Ozaru, Ippei

 17. Kimata, Hachiro

 18. Kataoka, Heizaemon

 19. Mori, Ugenta

 20. Toda, Gobei

 21. Kobe, Seiun

 22. Momochi, Kobei

 23. Tobari, Tenzen

 24. Toda, Nobutsuna Seiryu      Kwanyei era    1624 - 1644

 25. Toda, Nobuchika Fudo          Manji era       1658 - 1681

 26. Toda, Kangoro Nobuyasu      Tenna era      1681 - 1704

 27. Toda, Eisaburo Nobumasa      Hoyei era      1704 - 1711

 28. Toda, Shinbei Masachika      Shotoku era    1711 - 1736

 29. Toda, Shingoro Masayoshi   Gembun era     1736 - 1764

 30. Toda, Daigoro Chikahide        Meiwa era     1764 - 1804

 31. Toda, Daisaburo Chikashige   Bunkwa era  1804 - ?

 32. Toda, Shinryuken Masamitsu  ? - 1907  (b.1824 - d.1909)

 33. Takamatsu, Toshitsugu    1907 - 1968  (b.1887 - d.1972)

 34. Hatsumi, Masaaki (Yoshiaki)     1968 -       (b.1931)


San-po Hiden:  The three secret treasures of Togakure Ryu


Senban Shuriken-  the four pointed throwing star.  This resembled a tool used by carpenters to remove nails, called a kugi-nuki.  It was a weapon to harass the enemy to assist in escape.

Shuko- commonly known as climbing claws, they were frequently used on both the hands and feet for combat as well, capable of delivering very serious injuries.  They were made of metal bands around the hand and wrist with a strap of leather connecting them.  Also called Tegaki.

Shindake-  a bamboo tube around 4 feet long, used as an underwater breathing tube and a blowgun.