In modern times, many important historical Ninjutsu scrolls have come out of the shadows of private family collections and been made available to scholars or published in book form for the first time. But there is one scroll that has yet to surface, though it still exists as a dim legend and a dark vision in the minds of the few who have heard of it.
We speak of the legend of the Black Sun Scroll: a document which describes the darkest arts of Black Ninjutsu, much as the Shoninki and the Bansenshukai describe the ways of White Ninjutsu. The Black Sun Scroll is said to contain the secret lore of a Ninja clan that originated as an Akuto—one of the “evil bands” of thieves and bandits who terrorized ancient Japan. It is said that some six hundred years ago, this band came under the influence of a mad Buddhist monk named Kano—an adept of the Mikkyo sect who had also trained with Yamabushi mountain mystics and the fanatical Sohei sect of warrior-monks.
Kano was obsessed with a vision of the Kuro no Hi—the Black Sun, which he alone was apparently capable of perceiving. By his perception of the dark energies emanating from this invisible sun, the monk believed he had been given magickal powers and prophetic abilities, but most people just thought he was mad. Expelled from the orthodox Buddhist orders for his erratic nature, Kano wandered the wilds of Japan, a desperate man who resorted to begging and petty criminality to survive. That was when he came in contact with a band of thieves and mercenaries, who, equally outcast and despised by conventional society, took him as their spiritual leader. Together, this unlikely band evolved into a bizarre cult, led by an inspired madman who gave them an ideology that elevated their activities above common criminality and mercenary terrorism to apocalyptic holy war. For Kano saw the cult’s activity in cosmic terms: he taught that the “White Sun” of the present age was dying, a “Black Sun” would soon rise that would cast the world into war and darkness, and the chaos the cult spread was the will of the “Dark Tao”.
In time, the cult settled down in a remote mountain village in Koka province. There, they constructed a temple known as Kuronohiji—Black Sun Temple—where Kano conducted services for the cultists. He also began to record the cult’s lore and his prophetic and magickal insights in secret scrolls. Thus was born the Black Sun Scroll of legend. By this time, the cult had become a skilled band of mercenaries who conducted night raids, arson, theft and assassination for any warlord who would hire them. Thus, they became one of the earliest and most notorious clans of shinobi-no-mono—stealers-in—Ninja.
After years of this way of life, the Black Sun Clan, as they became known, made many powerful enemies and were eventually targeted for destruction. It seems that their decisive offense was propagating their heretical religion, which Kano was now calling “Black Sun Zen”, “Black Shinto” or “Dark Taoism”. This religion produced a breed of apocalyptic religious terrorist-shinobi that terrified even the powerful warlords who employed them. Finally, with the prodding of several religious authorities, a powerful Koka Daimyo decided the time had come to wipe out the Black Sun Clan and end their fanatical cult forever. Soon, a large force of samurai descended upon the Clan’s village, joined by an army of Sohei fighting monks who saw it as their religious duty to wipe out the heretical evil-doers. Thus, according to the legend, the Kuro no Hi Temple and village were burned down by the Daimyo’s men and all its members were put to the sword. The evil scrolls which the Temple was said to contain also went up in flames, and with them some of the darkest flights of the human imagination and blackest magick ever conceived.
But the legend also states that Kano’s scrolls weren’t all destroyed on that violent and fiery night. The most sacred of his scrolls, Kuro no Hi no Maki—the Black Sun Scroll—was stolen out of the village by the Clan’s swiftest Ninja and taken to a place of safekeeping. The final prophecy of Kano, it is said, was that the Black Sun Scroll would one day be rediscovered, its revelations proven true, and the cult of the Shinobi no Kuro no Hi—the Black Sun Ninjas—born anew. Whether any of this is true we cannot say, since the fate of the scroll is still unknown. However, we will note that shortly after the destruction of Kuronohiji Temple, Japan was plunged into its “Sengoku” or “warring-states” period—a dark age of war and chaos that lasted for more than a century. Thus, in that respect Kano was prophetic, though it remains to be seen whether the Black Sun Scroll will resurface and its cult of Black Sun Ninjas will live again.