Real-Life Hattori Hanzo In ‘House Of Ninjas’: Is It Based On A True Story? Who Was Fuma Kotaro?


House of Ninjas, the Japanese series on Netflix, revolves around the Hanzo family, who are going through an identity crisis in modern-day Japan. Born into the legendary Ninja clan, the Hanzo family used to work for the ruling party in secret in order to defend the current government and eliminate all political and foreign threats. While the modern-day narrative of the House of Ninjas has no connection with any true story, several real-life historical references are scattered throughout the series. So, without further ado, let’s explore all the real-life anecdotes that House of Ninjas has incorporated into its narrative.

Spoiler Alert

In the House of Ninjas series, the Hanzo family was living under a false surname, the Tawaras, in order to keep their true identity a secret from the world. In episode 5, the youngest member of the family, Riku, came across a hidden dungeon inside their house, where we saw the posters of various ancestors, including their greatest ancestor, Hattori Hanzo. He was a real-life ninja in Japanese history who existed during the mid-15th century and served Tokugawa Ieyasu during the reign of the Tokugawa clan.

In the series, Grandmother Taki told Riku that his great-grandparents fought against the sworn enemy, the Fuma Clan, and drove them out of Odawara. It is true that Hanzo took part in the third Siege of Odawara in 1590. The sole motive of the battle was to eliminate the members of the Hojo clan, who refused to become a part of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s ambitions to unify Japan under a single banner. It was the reason why Hideyoshi attacked them at Odawara and forced them to surrender to his rule. Yes, it is the same clan whose family tree was mentioned in a secret scroll that the grandmother had been hiding inside the house. As per the real events, the head of the Hojo Clan, Ujimasa, later committed suicide along with his brother, thereby putting an end to the glorious days of their clan. Perhaps, after the siege, the surviving members of the Hojo family either went into hiding or changed their surname in order to protect themselves from the regime. Mukai, the politician, did something similar in the Netflix series, in order to hide her true identity.

The famous Odawara Castle also made its appearance in the House of Ninjas. At the end of the series, Mukai, a direct descendant of the Hojo Clan, paid a visit to the new leader of the Fuma Clan, Gaku, outside the same Odawara Castle, thereby suggesting its link with history. While in real life, Mukai’s ancestors were defeated in a fierce campaign against them, in the series, Mukai conspired with the Fuma Clan to regain the glory of the past and bring Japan under their rule.

According to history, the Fuma Clan was a real-life ninja clan whose fifth leader took the title Fuma Kotaro, the name that the antagonist of the series, Tsujioka Yosuke, constantly used. The 20th Fuma Kotaro, Gaku, further suggested an alliance between the Fuma Clan and the Hojo Clan, which does bear some resemblance to real history. During the siege of Odawara, Fuma Kotaro fought alongside the Hojo Clan. The Fuma Clan, who were inherently pirates (outlaws or rebels), worked for the Hojo Clan in exchange for money. It might be possible that the real-life Hattori Hanzo faced Kotaro in the battle of Odawara, though there is little evidence to suggest the same. 

In real-life, Kotaro was defeated during the siege of Odawara, after which the Fuma Clan made an escape and disappeared from the scene. A fictional story further suggests that Kotaro, yearning for revenge on Hanzo, tracked him down and killed him, but again, most historians don’t have any evidence to prove the same. Kotaro was later executed for his crimes in 1603, thereby putting an end to his legacy and lineage. The clan, on the other hand, disappeared after their tragic defeat at Odawara, and since then, little is known about its surviving members. Perhaps the Netflix series House of Ninjas used this part of history as a base to establish a long-standing rivalry between the three prominent clans that existed in medieval Japan. It could be possible that most of the members of these clans died a long time ago, but the House of Ninjas created a fictional version and continued their story in modern-day Japan.

In a way, the Fuma and the Hojo Clan were trying to repeat history itself and take absolute control of the country, which was why they initiated the Solar Eclipse Plan. The Hanzo family was a warrior clan that followed orders without much introspection. Gaku initially echoed the philosophies of the Hanzo family, who were being puppeteered by the BNM, but when he came in touch with the Fuma clan, his eyes opened to the concept of free will. The Fuma presented themselves as rebels and freethinkers who questioned the actions of the current regime whenever necessary, which was why they were seen as a threat to the governing body and therefore were brutally killed to end the opposition. But, actually, they were doing it to benefit themselves financially while using their speeches about patriotism and rebellion as distractions. That’s echoed in House of Ninjas too. When Gaku planted his own puppet in the government, he did it to have absolute control of Japan and his family (via the BNM), while making it seem that he wasn’t doing it for himself, but for the prosperity of his country. 

Perhaps in the next season, Ayame, who now has control over the red-phone, will ask Hamashima, the leader of the BNM, to assign the Tawara family a mission where they have to eliminate a close ally or shinobis. Maybe they will be asked to execute the members of the Guardians of the Demon Gate, thereby putting the Tawara family in a zone of conflict. Will they blindly follow or refuse to take part in the bloodshed? Most likely, the descendants of Hattori Hanzo will refuse to partake in such a conspiracy, as a similar thing had happened in real life, where Hattori refused to spill the blood of his master’s son, Nobuyasu, who was accused of treason during his father’s rule. After the entire fiasco, Ieyasu couldn’t help but praise Hattori’s loyalty and cherish his contribution to building his empire. In short, the Netflix series is indeed picking up the meatier chunks of real history and adapting the same twists and turns in modern-day Japan to make it entertaining for its viewers. I am really looking forward to all the real-life inspirations the creator of the series is going to introduce in the next season.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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