I have been given the opportunity to perform an Enbu with Soke and the Bujinkan Dojo in Japan at Fuse Benten Jinja. It was my feeling that I wanted to produce a presence that would both thrill, humour, and scare the crowd. Masks have been used in Japanese culture and also by the ninja to depict mythical demons,characters and beings to create theatre of dramatic interest and instill fear into adversaries. My enbu will be “Hensojutsu”. That is, I will distort the truth and invoke change in my environment,opponents and the audience by changing myself. What is important in Ninjutsu is the ability to take on the role of many characters to ensure survival. What is even more important is to maintain a strong and correct heart to not forget ones true self. If you cannot do this, you will be consumed by the techniques you have learned and lose your way. This is ninjutsu.
Takamatsu Osensei said:
“The skills of self- protection, which should provide a feeling of inner peace and security for the martial artist, so often develop without a balance in the personality and lead the lesser martial artist into warped realms of unceasing conflict and competition which eventually consume him.
If an expert in the fighting arts sincerely pursues the essence of Ninjutsu, devoid of the influence of the ego’s desires, the student will progressively come to realize the ultimate secret for becoming invincible – the attainment of the “mind and eyes of god”. The combatant who would win must be in harmony with the scheme of totality, and must be guided by an intuitive knowledge of the playing out of fate.
In tune with the providence of heaven and the impartial justice of nature, and following a clear and pure heart full of trust in the inevitable, the Ninja captures the insight that will guide him successfully into battle when he must conquer and conceal himself protectively from hostility when he must acquiesce.
The vast universe,beautiful in its coldly impersonal totality, contains all that we call good or bad, all the answers for all the paradoxes we see around us. By opening his eyes and his mind, the Ninja can responsively follow the subtle seasons and reasons of heaven, changing just as change is necessary, adapting always, so that in the end there is no such thing as a surprise for the Ninja. “
The mask exhibits horrifyingly well a ferocious moment of a shishi with its mouth open and a demonic grimace.
“Shikami” is the derivation of a word, “shikamettsura” (a wry or frowning face) used today. The mask is quite popular, appearing in a number of plays including Ooeyama, Momijigari and Tsuchigumo.
Shishi is a legendary lion like animal that has been passed down since ancient times and is regarded as sacred, and in some cases, a symbol of evil.
Some might think that it’s cynical or even comical to think that by a human actor putting the mask on and playing shishi, he becomes awed and feared by the audience. In fact in Kyougen Theatre, animals are mostly used to make scenes funny.
This shows Japanese people are fascinated by awesome and fearsome figures.