The Seven Ninja Disguises

Props for the Seven Ninja Disguises

One of the special tricks of the ninja was to disguise himself in one of seven guises. On a mission, a ninja would disguise himself in one of seven different ways: as a mendicant Zen priest, a monk, mountain ascetic, merchant, acrobat, street performer, or commoner. Whereas ninja could guess a person’s social standing from the smell of the incense on his clothing as described above, when in disguise they would also use incense to deceive people.

A monk who did not smell of joss sticks would be suspicious, whilst mountain ascetics always smell of cedar. People of different professions each had their own peculiar smells, and so, for example, medicine peddlers would smell of Japanese medicines and drapers would smell of aloeswood and agallochum.

The ninja would therefore ensure that he smelt as well as looked right when in disguise. The ninja thus obviously knew about the way of incense, but the art that they practiced was a shadowy one cloaked in secrecy.


  1. cloves
  2. sandalwood
  3. cinnamon
  4. fennel
  5. musk