Shinobi no Mono
is a series of eight jidaigeki
(Japanese historical dramas) which were released in Japan over a four year period from 1962 to 1966 by Daiei Pictures.
Based on a series of novels by Tomoyoshi Murayama, the plot of the first few films focuses on a ninja named Ishikawa Goemon and his struggle to survive during Japan's warring states period. The films star Ichikawa Raizo (of Nemuri Kyoshiro
/ Sleepy Eyes of Death
fame) who plays Ishikawa Goemon as well as several other characters throughout the series. Wakayama Tomisaburo (of Kozure Ookami
/ Lone Wolf and Cub
fame) also appears in the first four movies.
The remainder of the series after number three are based on original screenplays. When the series proved to be very popular among movie audiences, a television series was created and aired on NET network (now TV Asahi) from July 24, 1964 to July 30, 1965.
In the mid to late 90s, after searching in vain for information about these movies, I was lucky enough to find a LaserDisc collector's boxed during a visit to Japan. I had heard a lot about these movies throughout my years in the martial arts and I was excited to finally find the whole set in (what was then) a new and high quality format.
I paid the rather exorbitant price and lugged the set around during my last visit to Shinjuku before I returned to the States. When I got home, I was delighted by both the quality of the movies and the cool story lines. The acting is head and shoulders above the average martial arts film and the action scenes are fantastic! In the years since I found the films on LaserDisc, most of the series has been released with English subtitles in VHS and DVD format.