I know that ninjas wearing that type of all black clothes with hood and the like is an absolutely ridiculous idea; they usually dressed as it were common in the area to go unnoticed.

Anyway, I think that using those clothes for a night infiltration wouldn't be that horrible, maybe they would allow them to go more easily unnoticed in the darkness and maybe even in the case they were spotted by someone they could escape more easily. But even in this case such strange clothes would immediately draw the attention of anyone who were to see them.

Is there any historical evidence that clothes similar to these ones were used by any ninja?

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    Welcome to History:SE. AFAIK, the black outfit was an artistic convention intended to convey the idea that they were invisible. What do you want to know that isn't covered in the Wikipedia article. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 18:14
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    You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 18:14
  • @sempaiscuba, Wikipedia isn't perfect and apart from that it just says written evidence. Maybe there was graphical documents or even clothes designed in the way of that black clothes, although it can become unknown forever if those clothes were used by ninjas or not as there's no clear historical evidence, I'd like to know how many of things like the ones I'm mentioning point to these clothes maybe being used by ninjas. Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 18:19
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    There actually are several suites of ninja gear still in existence. While they're not black like popular media depicts, the style of the clothing is broadly similar. It wouldn't have been as strange as you might think - it's just their region's typical farmer's outfit with a veil.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Jan 6, 2018 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


As you said, the ninja or shinobi was first and foremost a master of disguise.

This was known as Hensojutsu, the art of disguise.

From Hatsumi, Masaaki. The way of the ninja: secret techniques. Kodansha International, 2004. p92

For most missions a sterotypical black ninja outfit would not have been the most prudent option. The ninja then attempted to look like whatever the situation called for. Some examples below.

Undercover operations are to be found throughout Japanese history, and one component of the modern ninja cult has been to exaggerate this fact by crediting certain historical figures with being ninja or “proto-ninja.” The legendary Prince Yamato Takeru resorts to subterfuge on at least one occasion including dressing up as a woman, making him a ninja in some eyes (Aston, 1972, p. 201)


He sent two Matsukura retainers as spies to Manila disguised as merchants, ostensibly to discuss reopening trade.

From Turnbull, Stephen. "The Ninja: An Invented Tradition?." Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective 9.1 (2015): 3. p12

For their commbat missions, however, a ninja fell back on armor that blended with his environment. The color needed to be flexible since black is not a good choice for blending in at all times. Colors like earth brown, watery blue and even snow white were utilised.

The author below descibes the ninja's armor as rainbow colored to fit in with the colors of nature.

One day, I was asked, "What color is Shinobi color?" I answered immediately, "Rainbow-color of course, the colors of a prism. They blend with nature's colors, don't they?

From Hatsumi, Masaaki. The way of the ninja: secret techniques. Kodansha International, 2004. p90

The author even refers to clan colors on page 92. You might notice that there is indeed a reference to black as the color of the Genji.

Certain old documents refer also to the "armor of the four clans," saying, "the head of the Genji wore black, the Heike violet, the Fujiwara light green, and the Tachibana yellow." This means using colored armor for Henso-jutsu— not merely techniques for changing one's appearance, but methods for changing the whole flow of battle.

As conclusion: A ninja indeed used a specific outfit that blended in when infiltrating. The color black was used, but it was only a small part of the ninja apparel. Their clothes' color was adapted to their surroundings

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