|Commands held||Leader of female ninjas (Kunoichi) of the Takeda clan|
Mochizuki Chiyome (望月 千代女), also known as Mochizuki Chiyojo (望月 千代女) or Mochizuki Chiyo (望月 千代), was a 16th-century Japanese poet and noblewoman. She is known for creating a group of kunoichi in service of the Takeda clan.
Chiyome, a descendant of the 15th-century ninja Mochizuki Izumo-no-Kami (望月出雲守) of the Kōga-ryū, was the wife of Mochizuki Moritoki, a samurai lord of Shinano's Saku District and himself a distant relative of Izumo-no-Kami. After Moritoki was killed in the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima, Chiyome was left in the care of the daimyō Takeda Shingen, the leader of the Takeda clan and an uncle of her late husband. It was then when Takeda approached her and tasked her with creating an underground network of kunoichi (female ninja) for use against rival warlords.
Takeda's plan was to have fully trained female operatives who could act as spies and agents used to gather information and deliver coded messages to his allies; Mochizuki was the best candidate for this, since she came from a long line of Kōga ninja. She accepted the task, set up her operation in the village of Nezu (祢津村) in the Shinshū region (present-day Tōmi, Nagano), and searched for potential candidates. Mochizuki recruited sex workers, victims of the Sengoku civil wars, and orphaned young girls. They were trained to become information gatherers, seductresses, messengers, and assassins, and were also taught the skills of a miko, which allowed them to travel without suspicion. Over time, her kunoichi learned to effectively use more disguises such as actresses, sex workers, or geisha, which allowed them to move freely within villages, towns, castles, and temples.
Eventually, Chiyome and her kunoichi had set up an extensive network of some 200–300 agents that served the Takeda clan. Shingen was always informed of all activities, putting him one step ahead of his opponents at all times until his mysterious death in 1573, after which Mochizuki disappeared from historical records.
It has been alleged that Mochizuki's name first appeared the 1971 book Investigation of Japanese History (考証日本史) by non-academic Shisei Inagaki (稲垣史生). Inagaki:
However, Katsuya Yoshimaru (吉丸雄哉), an associate professor of Mie University who studies Japanese Edo period literature and the ninja, claims that Chiyome did not actually exist and lists the allegedly erroneous points of Inagaki's book:
Mochizuki's name became popular after a two-page article about her was published in a 1991 special issue of the magazine History Reader (歴史読本) titled Extraordinary Special Issue: All the Definitive Types of Ninja (臨時増刊号『決定版「忍者」の全て』). This article said that she was an upper ninja (上忍); according to Yoshimaru, historically there was no such rank in a ninja hierarchy.
Mochizuki is featured in many video games, some of which include Nobunaga's Ambition: Souzou (DLC), Puzzle & Dragons, and Toukiden: The Age of Demons.
She is mentioned as a trainer of the playable character Kunoichi in Samurai Warriors, and appears in person in Samurai Warriors 2 as Shingen's mistress and the master and surrogate mother of Kurenai, the protagonist of Red Ninja: End of Honor. Mochizuki appears in Assassin's Creed: Memories, where she is recruited by the Templars after Shingen's death and becomes an enemy of Hattori Hanzō, and in Onimusha Soul, in which she works with the evil Genma and appears in several different forms, ages, and art styles. She is a non-playable character using Ground and Dark type pokémon in Pokémon Conquest, and elite versions of generic "Kunoichi" enemies in Marvel: Avengers Alliance are named "Chiyome". Innocent World (Japanese version of Aura Kingdom) offered a catgirl version of Chiyome as a player character, and another game has her in a full cat form. In Sangoku Taisen, she is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro. She also appears as an Assassin-class Servant in Fate/Grand Order. In the videogame series Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, the character Aiko comes from a kunoichi clan run by a "Lady Chiyo".
Yatsuko Tanami played her in the film Sanada Yukimura no Bōryaku. She appears as a major character in David Kudler's young-adult historical novel Risuko.
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