Mochizuki Chiyome

ACM_Chiyome
Mochizuki Chiyome from Assassin’s Creed: Memories

Mochizuki Chiyome (sometimes known as Mochizuki Chiyojo or Mochizuki Chiyo) was a noblewoman, poet and kunoichi (female ninja) who lived sometime during the 16th century.(1) Little is known about her life and some historians even question her existence. Nevertheless, she has become a legend due to her title as a kunoichi.

We do not know a lot about Chiyome. The years of her birth and death are unknown, although some speculate that she was born sometime in the 1530s or the 1540s.(2) Her year of death is unknown, there is no record of a description on her physical appearance and the pronunciation of her name is a mystery to historians, however, the most common name for her is Chiyome.(3) What we do know about her is all speculation. It is believed that she was the descendant of the famous Kōga ryū ninja Mochizuki Izumo-no-Kami and that she married Mochizuki Moritoki, who was also a descendant of the same man.(4) According to the legend, her husband was killed at the famous Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima (1561) and afterwards, Takeda Shingen approached her about creating a group of elite spies that were all women. Chiyome accepted and set up her facilities at the village of Nazu.(5) She took in women who tended to get forgotten about by Japanese society: runaways, orphans, widows and lost girls. She would provide them a place to stay but in return, they had to act as spies for the Takeda clan.(6) The women that were under her care apparently posed as holy women, entertainers and prostitutes and reported back to Chiyome who passed on the information to Shingen. Women who entered Chiyome’s care could not return to normal life.(7) Chiyome disappears from history after Shingen’s death in 1573.

The reason why historians believe that she may have not existed has to do with the fact that her name first appears in a book called Investigation of Japanese History by Shisei Inagaki. Published in 1971, it was written by a non-academic and brings up a lot of the points that is known about Chiyome now. The book contained a detailed account of the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima and claimed that she was married to Mochizuki Moritoki died at this battle, presented a written document giving Chiyome permission to run her kunoichi operation, stated that the miko (shrine maidens) in Nazu were all spies and that Chiyome became a ninja.(8) These claims were corrected by an associate professor of Mie University, Katsuya Yoshimaru. He claimed that Mochizuki Chiyome did not actually exist. He pointed out that there was no historical document that exists that describes the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima in detail and that Mochizuki Moritoki did not die during this battle. He also stated that this “written permission” that was given to Chiyome from Shingen is a fake. The claim that the miko in the village were spies is a baseless claim and the claim that Chiyome became a ninja is also false.(9)

Mochizuki Chiyome is a legend in Japanese history, for no one can say for sure if she actually existed or if she actually lived. Then again, legend states that she was the leader of a large group of kunoichi that numbered somewhere from 200 to 300 spies.(10) Perhaps because of her status, she has been wiped from history to protect herself after Shingen’s death. Her life is a mystery, and maybe it is suppose to be that way. After all, she was the head of Shingen’s female spies…

Sources:

  1. “Mochizuki Chiyome”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochizuki_Chiyome, last visited 9/25/2021. In the small amount of sources I have found, this is the only one that said that she was a poet, so I am not sure how credible this is.
  2. Yoda, Hiroko and Matt Alt. Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws (2012), p. 59
  3. Yoda, Hiroko and Matt Alt. Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws (2012), p. 59
  4. Yoda, Hiroko and Matt Alt. Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws (2012), p. 59
  5. Porath, Jason. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics (2016), p. 232. Accessed on Scribd 9/20/2021
  6. Porath, Jason. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellion, and Heretics (2016), p. 232. Accessed on Scribd 9/20/2021
  7. Yoda, Hiroko and Matt Alt. Ninja Attack!: True Tales of Assassins, Samurai and Outlaws (2012), p. 60
  8. “Mochizuki Chiyome”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochizuki_Chiyome, last visited 9/25/2021.
  9. “Mochizuki Chiyome”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mochizuki_Chiyome, last visited 9/25/2021.
  10. Porath, Jason. Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics (2016), p. 232. Accessed on Scribd 9/20/2021