Metsubushi: Ninjutsu Powder

As Martial Artist or a practitioner of the ancient martial art of Ninjutsu, you may have come across the term “Metsubushi” in your studies. Metsubushi is a Japanese term that refers to a variety of substances, including pepper or powder, that were traditionally used by ninjas to blind and distract their opponents.

Metsubushi, also known as “eye closers” in Japanese or Gantsubushi, were an array of tools and methods utilized during Japan’s feudal era by samurai police, Ninja and various individuals with the intention to blind or disorient adversaries either temporarily or permanently. These implements were particularly devised for incapacitating suspects or attackers by obstructing their vision.

One incarnation of Metsubushi deployed by law enforcement consisted of a box, often fashioned from lacquer or brass, outfitted with a broad mouthpiece designed for expelling air forcefully and an aperture or pipe on the opposite end to accurately direct powdered substances into the eyes of the suspect. The powder used could be a blend of ashes, finely ground pepper, mud, flour, and dirt. In instances where more serious harm was intended, finely crushed glass might be added to the concoction. This abrasive mix was typically contained within emptied eggshells (known as Happo), bamboo tubes, or other compact receptacles. In situations of confrontation, an individual could expel the Metsubushi towards the assailant’s face, causing temporary blindness and disorientation, thus providing a strategic advantage or a means of escape.

In this article, we will explore the history, types, and uses of Metsubushi in Ninjutsu.

History of Metsubushi

The use of Metsubushi dates back to feudal Japan when ninjas were employed as covert agents by warring factions. In those times, the use of weapons and armor was strictly regulated, making it difficult for Ninjas to carry their traditional tools such as Shuriken or swords. Metsubushi became a viable alternative for Ninjas to distract and evade their enemies.

Various TypesTypes

There are several types of Metsubushi that ninjas used, including pepper, ash, sand, iron filings and even broken glass. Each of these substances was selected for its ability to blind or distract an opponent temporarily. Pepper, for example, was often mixed with sand or ash and blown into an opponent’s eyes. Iron filings, on the other hand, were used to create a cloud of dust that could obscure the Ninja’s movements.

Construction Process of Metsubushi

The construction of Metsubushi was a highly secretive process, with each ninja clan having their unique recipe and construction techniques. However, the general process involves mixing the ingredients in a specific proportion and grinding them into a fine powder. The powder was then stored in a small pouch made of silk or other soft materials that could be easily concealed.

Types of Metsubushi

There were several types of Metsubushi that were used by ninjas, each with its unique properties and effects. Some of the most common types include:

  • Kasei Metsubushi: This type of Metsubushi was made using pepper and sand, and it was used to blind an opponent temporarily.
  • Kugi Metsubushi: This type of Metsubushi was made using iron filings and was used to create a cloud of dust that could obscure the Ninja’s movements.
  • Kikka Metsubushi: This type of Metsubushi was made using flower petals and was used to distract the opponent with its fragrance.
  • Kusari Metsubushi: This type of Metsubushi was made using broken glass and was used to injure the opponent’s eyes.

Uses of Metsubushi

Metsubushi was primarily used by ninjas as a tool for evasion or escape. By blinding or distracting their opponent, the ninja could create a momentary opening in which to strike or flee. Metsubushi was also used to disorient an opponent, making it easier for the ninja to deliver a finishing blow or to escape undetected.

In addition to its use as a tactical tool, Metsubushi also had symbolic importance in Ninjutsu. As an element of the ninja’s arsenal, Metsubushi represented the idea of “Mizu No Kokoro,” or a mind like water. This concept emphasized the importance of being fluid and adaptable in the face of changing circumstances, much like water that can take any shape.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Metsubushi is a term that is central to the practice of Ninjutsu. As a tool for evasion and distraction, it played a vital role in the ninja’s arsenal. Today, while the use of Metsubushi is not as prevalent as it once was, it remains an important part of the legacy of Ninjutsu.

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Updated: February 4, 2024 — 11:39 am