Hattori Hanzo

Perhaps the most commonly known ninja from history is Hattori Hanzo. Hanzo was a well-known samurai and shinobi, and possibly the main author of the Shinobi Hider, although it may also have been his father. Hanzo was just one individual in a long line of famous shinobi. The Hanzo clan in the Iga province had long been known as fierce warriors and dedicated ninjas. Of all the historical ninjas, Hattori Hanzo’s name may be most recognizable for Westerners due to its use in popular media. Characters with the name Hattori Hanzo have appeared in numerous movies. In 2003, a character with that name appeared in Kill Bill, a film by director and kung fu movie fan Quentin Tarantino. In this case, Hattori owns a sushi bar in Okinawa, but he is also a legendary sword maker.

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Modern depictions of ninjas are usually silent killers in black clothing. In Kill Bill, Hanzo’s character is friendly and likeable.

Hattori Hanzō is still the finest swordsmith in the world; however, he has not created a new sword in the more than 25 years since vowing never again to make instruments of death.

In Kill Bill, Uma Thurman’s character, referred to as The Bride, has created a list of five individuals she must kill. Hattori Hanzo, the sword maker, cautions her, “Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest. And like a forest it’s easy to lose your way … to get lost … to forget where you came in.”

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