Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Japan has made several other contributions to the world of womanly weaponry, most of them used by the female ninjas known as kunoichi, who began slipping through the shadows in the 1500s. The kunoichi’s secret weapons included poisons, blinding powders and stealth weapons like the kushi (hair comb), kasa (umbrella), kakute (spiked ring), nekote (steel claws or fingernails) and hari (sharpened needle). These dual-function weapons went mostly undetected on kunoichi disguised as dewy-eyed geishas, but each could be used to kill, and the kunoichi trained hard to do so, quickly and quietly. Worn as jewelry, the kakute made it easy to slice a throat; the kushi could be holding hair one moment and stabbing a vital organ the next.