Merriam-Webster defines legacy as a gift by will of personal property. Hattori Hanzo passed down the beautiful rituals and folklore of ancient Japan.
Hattori Hanzo, born 1542 in the Mikawa Province Japan, during a massive cultural upheaval. The Sengoku era marked by constant military conflict. Hanzo became military nobility as a Samurai. Hanzo started his training at the age of eight and saw his first battle at sixteen.
By the end of the 12th century, Samurai was synonymous with the upper echelons of the military. The Samurai caste was less than ten percent of Japan’s population.
Hanzo was credited with saving the life of the future ruler of a united Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu became the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan. 1582, Hattori led the next leader safely to Mikawa Province, across the Iga territory.
Hattori Hanzo was later nicknamed Demon Hanzo. His name given to him because of fearless battle tactics. Before saving Ieyasu, Hanzo mounted a brilliant defense of his homeland. Unfortunately, the Iga Province fell in 1579.
Saving the future leader, Hattori recruited help from remnants of the Iga Ninja clan. According to Japanese legend, Iga Ninja was one of two famous ninja schools. Once Ieyasu became the shogun, he employed the Iga ninja to guard his Edo Castle.
Hanzo also enlisted the bitter rivals of the Iga Ninja, the Koga clan. The ancient Koga clan were known for fierce, elusive and highly effective guerilla warfare. It is believed the Koga became an army under the leadership of General Yoshihisa in 1487.
Hattori Hanzo was credited with saving the entire family of Ieyasu. Hanzo continued to gain favor with Ieyasu. The Iga Ninja were employed, with Hanzo as their leader. His battle tactics became renowned.
The spear was an integral part of Japan’s history. Hattori Hanzo was known as a master in spear fighting. Mythology has the spear as part of Japan’s creation.
Hattori’s exploits rose to mythical status and he credited with supernatural abilities. Precognition, teleportation, and psychokinesis became part of the popular culture.
The legend of Hanzo is active to this day. Among them the Hanzo Gate, part of the Imperial Palace, once the Edo Castle. The neighborhood outside the gate is known as Iga Town, to honor the legend.
Popular culture has Hanzo portraying samurai across Japan’s greatest eras. Hattori Hanzo’s life has been fictionalized from playing cards, video games to numerous movies.
Hanzo is portrayed most often with the Iga clan ninjas. He is a recurring figure in numerous ninja combat films. Hattori is always described as a highly competent and loyal follower to Ieyasu.
Hattori Hanzo continues to appear in popular media of today’s culture. Video games have portraid Hanzo as the consummate ninja. Some works have the character as a female and his descendants in various roles. Hanzo’s legend and character have made it to trading cards and the ever favorite anime.
The Kill Bill series of films is where the modern Hattori Hanzo legend has blossomed. His role is seen as a master sword maker, supplying the main character, her weapon of choice.
The Katana Sword distinctive in design with its curved blade, circular guard, and extended grip. The Katana Sword was the traditional samurai weapon, used during feudal Japan in Hanzo’s 15th century.
Hattori Hanzo died November 4, 1596; his remains at the Sainenji Temple. His son, Hattori Hanzo Masanari built the temple in 1593. Hanzo was laid to rest with his battle helmet and favorite spear.
The spear, given to Hattori Hanzo by Ieyasu for winning a decisive battle.