The Azuma Ninja (東忍流 Azuma shinobi-ryū?) is a ninja clan that has been loyal to the family and country of Gohda Matsunoshin for generations through times of war and relative peace. Once a large and powerful clan, by the time of war with the Burning Dawn, most of its members were growing old, with only three of youthful age. By the end of the war with the Burning Dawn, only two Azuma remained. This was the case for at least over a decade, until the events of Tenchu Z, when two ninja survived the training and joined during the Gohda-Ogawara War though one did not survive the war. The Azuma are masters in the art of Ninjutsu and guerrilla warfare. Before going to war with the Burning Dawn they trained high in the mountains of their native country Gohda, in the Azuma village. Underwater survival training, combat training, stealth techniques and intiations were all conducted within the village. Once the student felt they were ready for the grueling test the Azuma Master would put them through a training mission that would test all their skills and knowledge. If passed, the Azuma would obtain a scroll from the Azuma Master showing membership in the clan. During the war with Ogawara, Rikimaru used this similar training tactic sticking to Azuma tradition, but it would seem that the scroll was removed from the graduation, but instead the student was met by the Daimyo and the Azuma Master. The Azuma Ninjas reputation for carrying out covert missions for the country of Gohda, is widely known as Shigi, Heisuke Echigoya , Nagayori Ogawara, Kimura Izaemon and Rinshi, all acknowleged their existence and affiliation to the country of Gohda. Even Lady Kagami showed a sign of respect after encountering Izayoi and Tatsumaru. These covert spies are true ninja and their knowlege, experience, tradition, stealth skills and techniques of silent guerrilla warfare is extensive.
During his long rule over the Azuma Ninja, Azuma Shiunsai performed many covert missions for the father of Gohda Matsunoshin, many sensitive and political in nature. One was killing a treacherous samurai. While leaving the man's castle, Azuma Shiunsai took the dead samurai's infant son to be trained as a ninja. This boy would later grow to become the Gohda spy - Rikimaru.
It is known that Azuma Shiunsai also killed Tatsumaru's father, whether it was under similar circumstances to Rikimaru is unknown.
Azuma Shiunsai raised and trained Tatsumaru, Rikimaru and Ayame in everything they knew regarding Azuma Ninjutsu. This includes Azuma techniques of jutaijutsu, sword combat and taijutsu. As well as stealth application, he also stressed the importance of emotional control. Ninja must never lose their temper or act in haste or anger. Anger clouds ones judgement and will lead to death. All his students grew to follow these codes with a few exceptions. Tatsumaru followed his heart and supported the Burning Dawn. Rikimaru accepted the role of Azuma Master and became the spitting image of Azuma Shiunsai in terms of living up to the true way of the Azuma. He mastered his emotions and put the safety of his daimyo, defense of his country and preservation of the Azuma first, as instilled into him by his master and father figure. Ayame would act out of haste, when regarding princess Kiku. Azuma Shiunsai was a Ninja Grandmaster of the highest degree. This can be said by looking at his students and their skills. Azuma Shiunsai fell in battle with Tatsumaru, but his memory and teachings live on through the Azuma clan thanks to Azuma Master Rikimaru.
Birth of the Stealth Assassins Era
By the time Gohda Matsunoshin's father died, the vast majority of the Azuma Ninja were elderly and many were somewhat infirm. The ninjas of this time were still led by Azuma Shiunsai and they lived in the Azuma Village. The only three young ninja were Tatsumaru, Rikimaru and Ayame. Tatsumaru had been a fully qualified ninja for some time before the change of power. Just before the death of Gohda's father, Rikimaru and Ayame also ascended to this rank. The Azuma had a clan dog - Semimaru, which they used for tracking and communicated with their operatives in the field with carrier pigeons.
When rebellion broke out in the House of Gohda, the Azuma Ninja sided with Gohda Matsunoshin against his uncle - Godha Motohide. They were sent to aid the besieged Gohda Castle, but not before Shiunsai gave the clan's ancestral sword, Izayoi, to Tatsumaru, thus promoting him to Master Ninja of the clan.
Tatsumaru's leadership was short-lived. When he defeated Toda Yoshisada and fought Lady Kagami at Lord Toda's war camp, both Tatsumaru and Kagami fell into the sea, Izayoi going with them. Depressed, Rikimaru and Ayame returned to the Azuma Village and Shiunsai resumed leadership of the clan.
During the war with the Burning Dawn, the Azuma Village was attacked by many Burning Dawn ninjas, led by Kagami and Tatsumaru (now amnesiac, led to believe he was a Lord of the Burning Dawn.) All of the elderly ninjas were slain by either Tatsumaru or his minions and Tatsumaru himself killed Azuma Shiunsai, stabbing Izayoi into his chest. With his last breath, Azuma Shiunsai ordered Rikimaru to recover the sword and defeat Tatsumaru.
At the Battle of Gohda Harbor, it was Ayame who defeated Tatsumaru, though he ended his own life to atone for his betrayal. Rikimaru took the sword Izayoi and used it to slay Kagami, thus ending the Burning Dawn Crisis and earning his position as the new Azuma Master.
Reduced now to two, the remaining Azuma went to live at Gohda Castle.
Main Article: Izayoi
Izayoi is the ancestral sword of the Azuma Ninja, wielded (or at least possessed) by the Azuma Master. As of the last appearance of the series, it is carried by Rikimaru as his primary weapon.
Master Ninja of the Azuma Clan
The following are the known Master Ninja of the Azuma Ninja Clan, in chronological order: