Momochi Tanba


Kanji: 百地丹波

Date(s): 1512(?)-1584(?)

Other Known Names: Tanba-no-Kami, Momochi Sanadayu (?), Fujibayashi Nagato (?)


Momochi Tanba is a famous ninja from the Iga clan. His actual name has never been confirmed and his life is a bit of a mystery because of his secretive ways. What is known is this; he was the ruler of the Iga clan and ruled it via council, a council that the famous ninja Hattori Hanzō, was a part of. There was also another ninja that was a part of this council named Fujibayashi Nagato, but this name is believed to be one of Tanba’s aliases. On top of using aliases, he had three separate residences and families. He personally trained and commanded his ninja army, which included another famous ninja, Ishikawa Goemon, and had an expensive network of spies at his disposal.

Despite having little to no information on him, there are a couple of notable incidents between Momochi Tanba and Oda Nobunaga. The first encounter took place in 1579, when Oda Nobukatsu, Nobunaga’s second son, launched a campaign on Iga. The enemy built a fortress at the edge of the region to launch the attack and it turned into a yearlong siege of guerilla warfare, In the end, Nobukatsu lost 3,000 men, an experienced field marshal and the fortress they built.

In retaliation, Nobunaga launched a campaign of his own against Tanba in 1581 with 44, 000 men. He set up a daily quota for his men; he wanted 300-500 heads a day. Tanba decided to make his last stand at Kashiwahara Castle which lasted a month and ended in a stalemate. All the ninja surrendered, but Momochi Tanba was nowhere to be found. One theory states that he might have escaped, and went on to live for another fourteen years as a farmer.

The photo is the artwork from the Nobunaga’s Ambition video games.