Ninja Weapons

Ninja weapons. List of ninja weapon types. Japanese weapons of ninjas. Ninja swords-ninjato and katana, tachi, kodachi, shuriken, caltrop, ninja explosives, kama, kunai, tanto, blowguns, bow, naginata and yari spear.

While accounts of the ninjas have achieved mythic proportions, the fact remains that they were fearsome warriors of their age. Like all warrior clans, ninjas also have their own weapons. However, it is a misconception to believe that certain weapons were used by the ninjas exclusively. More importantly, the choice of weapons used by the shinobi depended greatly on their work.

Ninjas were mainly employed as spies and arsonists. This meant that they had to go about their work in secret. They could not use any weapons which could expose them. For the same reason, they did not have any unique weapons. If caught, the presence of those weapons would have instantly revealed the shinobi for who they were. Therefore, the ninjas used weapons which were commonly used in their age. Alternatively, they used weapons which could be used in some other non-lethal capacity such as the staff.

Ninjato (Shinobigatana)

Ninjato-Ninja sword

Popularly known as the ninja sword, the ninjato is apparently the weapon used by the ninjas. However, there is no historical evidence which states that such a weapon was actually used by the real ninjas of Japanese history.
The Ninjato is supposed to resemble the katana, the primary weapon of the samurai. However, it is shorter than a katana. As such, it has a greater resemblance to the wakizashi. It has a flat blade and a single edge. Being a short sword, its length usually does not exceed 80 cm.


Katana sword

The katana is a long sword which was mainly used by the samurai and is unique to Japan. Even though they were meant to be used by the samurai, the ninjas often used them as and when required. A traditionally-made katana is considered to be one of the finest types of swords in the world.
The katana has a blade length of over 60 cm. It has a single edge but the blade has a curved appearance. The grip is long so that the katana can be held with two hands easily. The guard or tsuba can be either circular or square.
katana was worn by edge up. Katana was often used together with a smaller wakizashi sword. Katana is known from end of 12th century.
O-katana is long katana, chisa katana means a shorter katana.


Tachi sword

Tachi is Japanese sword, older than katana, produced even befor 12th century. Tachi sword is longer and more curved than katana and it was primarily used by a mounted samurais.


Kodachi means small sword. Kodachi is small version of the Japanese tachi sword, which is older than a classic katana. Kodachi was used in Kamakura period (12th-14th century). Length of kodachi was up to 60 cms (23.6").

Blowgun (Fukiya)

Ninja blowgun Fukiya

Fukiya is the traditional blowgun used in Japan. It is different from western blowguns as there is no mouthpiece in a fukiya. Instead, the user will have to seal the gun with his or her lips while exhaling forcefully. The darts used with this blowgun are called fukibari.
Blowguns for sale.

The fukiya used by ninjas was of a shorter length of around 50cm. Sports-grade fukiya are longer. The short length effectively decreases the range of the weapon. It is likely that poisoned darts were used with the fukiya by the ninjas.


Ninja shuriken

Shuriken is the weapon most commonly associated with the ninjas. They are traditional weapons which were meant to be thrown. They could also be used for slashing or stabbing. These weapons could be easily concealed.
While modern interpretations of the shuriken usually depict them as throwing stars, shuriken originally could have been of any shape. As for the throwing stars, they are a subcategory known as ‘hira shuriken’ or "shaken". The other major type of shuriken is the Bo shuriken which were straight pikes.


Ninja caltrop

Caltrop is a weapon used to wound and slow down a foot or mounted opponent.

Hook sword (Fu tao, Hu tou gou)

Hook sword

Hook sword is originally a Chinese weapon, sometimes associated to Ninjas.
Hook sword was often used in pairs. It served for defense but also for an offense, it allowed the user to disarm opponent.


They used smoke grenades, mines, and flashing balls to confuse their opponent while they escaped, as well as explosive arrows and firecrackers.
Ninjas also used a kind of guns made of bamboo, they adopted a regular guns after arrival of Portugueses in 16th century.

Flail (Chigiriki)

Chigiriki ninja flail

Chigiriki is a Japanese equivalent of European medieval flail, reinforced often and tuned by a spikes or by a mini blades.
The chigiriki was used by the Kiraku ryu and the Araki ryu ninja schools.


Ninja kama

Kama is a sickle. The original sickles had a longer blade than handle. Kama was sometimes used in pair. The sickle causing a devastating slashing and stabbing damage.



Kusari-Gama is a kama (sickle) wiht a chain attached to end of its handle. Kusari-gama was used for a longer distance than kama and it could remove weapon of an opponent.



The Kyoketsu-shogei was a knife with a hook attached to one end of a chain or a cord.
On the other end of the cord was a metal ring. The knife could be used in close quarters or swung around by holding on to the ring. The ring provided a weighted end for trapping and hitting enemies.



The kunai looks like a dagger but could serve multiple weapon functions when wielded by a master. The ninjas mainly used the kunai to pick holes in walls to make it easier for them to climb it. As a weapon, it was used for slashing or stabbing. They were never meant to be used as throwing weapons contrary to popular belief. Originally, the kunai was meant to be used as farming tools which is possibly why they were used by the ninjas.
The length of the kunai could vary between 20cm to 30cm. It does not have any sharp edges expect for the tip. The blade was shaped like a leaf and there was a ring on the handle’s pommel. A rope could be attached to this ring. This rope could function as a grip for the kunai or be used for tying a staff to it and, thereby, creating a spear.

Japanese Bow (Yumi)

Yumi-Japanese bow

Yumi is the Japanese word for a bow. More specifically, it refers to the asymmetrical bows that are traditionally used in Japan. ‘Ya’ is the term for the arrow. The yumi and ya were popular among the samurai since there were few projectile weapons during their era. For the same reason, ninjas used them.
A typical Yumi is quite tall with a minimum length of two meters. In most cases, they exceed the height of the archer. The ‘Ya’ is also exceptionally long at nearly 1m in length or even longer. Ninjas were known to use "bo hiya" or fire arrows with their Yumi but also poisoned and explosive arrows. Ninjas used also a short bows.



The tanto is a Japanese dagger. Like the katana, it was mainly used by the samurai. However, ninjas were also known to use them. While it mainly served an ornamental function, the tanto could be easily used in battle when required as they were kept sharp.
The tanto was designed to be used in the form of a stabbing weapon. Nonetheless, they were good for slashing too. The blade of a tanto could be either single-edged or double-edged.

Japanese Fan (Tessen)

Ninja fan

Tessen is a reinforced fan. The fan can be used for defense as for attack. It can contain a sharp spikes or an edge.

Japanese Staff (Bo)

Japanese Staff

The staff was a popular weapon during the age of the ninjas the samurai. It is still quite popular today as it is used in a variety of martial arts. There are varying lengths of the staff and each is given a different name. The longest of them is the Bo which is around 1.8m long. Others include the Jo, the Tambo and the Hanbo.

Japanese Spear (Yari)

Yari spear

Yari is a spear about 5 feets. Its handle can contain a hidden blade.



Naginata is a Japanese polearm. Naginata features 4-8 feets long shaft with 1-2 feets long blade.