Fūma Kotarō (風魔 小太郎, died 1603) was one of the leaders of the Fūma ninja clan (風魔 一党, Fūma-ittō) in the Sengoku Era.
Fūma Kotarō and the Fūma clan (Fūma ryu)
The use of this name began with the first clan leader. Originally nicknamed "風間" (Fūma), with another Kanji, it was later changed to the homophone 風魔. Each subsequent leader of the school adopted the same name as its founder, Fūma Kotarō, so it is difficult to identify them individually. The best known of them is the fifth. He served under Hōjō Ujimasa and Hōjō Ujinao.
This school served the Go-Hōjō clan of Odawara. They were known for their cavalry strategy, which led to speculation that they were descendants of nomadic tribes.
One of their most famous battles took place in 1581 when the Takeda clan had placed their camp on the bank the Osegawa River of the Hōjō in Ukishimagahara. The Fūma ninja had crossed the river and attacked the Takeda camp several times and had succeeded in spreading mass chaos in the camp.
The Fūma clan is the first shinobi "忍" clan in Japan. The oldest, the most effective, the most dangerous. The name Fūma actually means "demon wind". His effectiveness was very quickly confronted with the rivalries of other shinobi clans Iga and Kōga allying against him, as later the Hattori clan.
Apart from some defeats he always defeated and repelled his assailants, bringing vengeance to the homes of his attackers.
In 1590, despite the massive seppuku of the Hōjō clan during the siege of Odawara, the Hōjō clan survived through the sacrifice of the Fūma clan, which diverted attention to it with various stealth attacks to save and protect the Hōjō descendants.
In 1596, Kotarō was hunted down by the famous ninja Hattori Hanzō in the service of Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was responsible for Hanzō's death by trapping his ships with the tide. His troops then set fire to the canal thus finishing off his warrior "rival."
However, in 1603, Kotarō's days of plunder and theft came to an end. He was captured by an old rival, Kosaka Jinnai, a shinobi serving the Takeda clan, and beheaded by the shogunate.
When the Tokugawa Shogunate came to power, in its policy of exterminating shinobi clans, the Fūma-ryū was declared a pirate, the only way for Tokugawa to finally get rid of this elusive clan avoiding the pitfalls of direct confrontations as other clans did.
Many of his fighters attacked a series of Tokugawa installations for the sake of honor. They were eventually captured and executed. The then officially destroyed Fūma-ryū perpetuated itself in the shinobi clan Izu, itself a product of Fūma. Izu-ryū acting on the shores of Kanagawa and controlling the islands of the same name Izu off Odawara, still loyal to the officially fallen Hōjō clan.
During the Tokugawa era, Hōjō resumed its place in the shadows, from ruler to ruler, and today controls various Japanese commercial and financial companies, the battle nowadays not being on the battlefield but in numbers and negotiation.
Fūma Kotarō After the war
During the planned surrender of the Empire, members of the Fūma clan attempted the elimination of Mamoru Shigemitsu charged by Emperor Shōwa known as Hirohito to sign the act of surrender, this signing being to make the Emperor and Japan lose face.
These shinobi were stopped the moment Mamoru Shigemitsu left by other Fūma because the Emperor's will had to be fulfilled. Those who ordered this mission and wanted to keep the fight against the Americans on Japanese soil were asked to go into exile.
Fūma Kotarō To this day
While some clans such as Kōga and Iga come into the open through some media coverage, see the dōjō nin-jutsu "Bujinkan," Fūma is more discreet with his dōjō.
His teaching in Japan still remains exclusive to select individuals, however dōjō are accessible in some countries such as Germany (Bentien Michael Sensei), England (Adams Paul Sensei), the United States (Soke Hoshino Harunaka Sensei), Ethiopia (name unknown), French Polynesia (刃留陰 Halluin Jean-Réole Sensei) and Uruguay (Kioshi Fava Federico Sensei).
Exiles from the Fūma clan
It should be noted that almost all of the dōjō Fūma outside of Japan are the mark of the exiles, always faithful to their ideology, even to a certain pro-Japanese extremism (respect for the Tōkyō Shōkonsha (Yasukuni-jinja), unwavering support for national causes such as concerning the Senkaku Islands).
The desire would be for each exile to have a gaijin sensei (foreign master) educated in these pro-Japanese or even pro-Imperial precepts settle in Japan, to regain face and be like a revenge on the second half of the Shōwa Era (昭和).
This return would be with the support of the Tatenokai organization, protecting the traditional values of Yamato, which became Issuikai since 1972, which would motivate this initiative by considering these foreign shinobi masters as heroes of non-Japanese Japan in the same way that the Frenchman Jules Brunet was.
To this day none of the known Fūma no gaijin sensei have expatriated to Japan.
Fūma Kotarō Popular culture
In works of fiction, Fūma Kotarō is often depicted as the rival of Hanzō Hattori (himself often depicted as a ninja). The name Fūma literally means "demon wind," Fūma Kotarō's depiction is often more flamboyant, fantastical, and sometimes even demonic, unlike Hanzō who is usually rendered with a relatively modest appearance.
Fuma Kotaro appears as a woman in the manga tenkaichi nihon saikyou mononofu ketteisen by Nakamaru Yosuke and Azuma kyoutarou released in 2021 .
Konami created a game on Famicom named Getsufuma Den, from which the main character, Getsu Fuma, is inspired by this ninja clan.
Kotarō is the main character of the video game World Heroes, his main rival is Hanzō, these two characters will be found in another 2D fighting game, NeoGeo Battle Coliseum released in 2005 on PlayStation 2 in Japan. Kotaro Fuma can also be found in the video game Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny (Fūma clan ninja serving the Hojo clan).
In the television series The Samurai, Kotaro is characterized as the main villain, while in the manga Nabari no Ō, he appears as the leader of the Fūma ninja village and ally of the main character.
Fūma Kotarō also appears as a secondary or minor character, such as in the video games Nobunaga's Ambition and Taikō Risshiden. Playable character in Kessen III, a game based on the life of Nobunaga Oda or in the game Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes as a playable character .
The current descendants of the Kotarō clan are the main characters in Masami Kurumada's manga Fūma no Kojirō, the Fûma Clan is also represented in the Naruto manga.
Fūma Kotarō as well as the rest of the Fūma clan appear in the manga and anime Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Cloud) as antagonists.