Secrets of 三つ鱗 Mitsu Uroko

三つ鱗 Mitsu Uroko photo by Michael Glenn
Since I am a ninja, I am part of a secret society. Secret societies are fun to learn about. One of the most obvious ways into a secret society is through its symbols. I recently stumbled across one mysterious symbol called 三つ鱗 Mitsu Uroko in a place I didn't expect to find it.

You have probably seen this symbol. For Legend of Zelda fans it is known as the Triforce. But you may not know that the creator of this game, Miyamoto Shigeru, took much of his inspiration from the mountains and temples of Kyoto. And if you travel around Japan, you will encounter this symbol yourself.

What does it mean? And why should anyone in the Bujinkan care? Let me explain.

The origin story of this symbol is tied with one of the most powerful Shogun and clans in Japanese history.

As told in the Taiheiki 太平記, Hojo Tokimasa went on a pilgrimage of fasting and prayer to the island of Enoshima. While he was in one of the Iwaya Caves, the Goddess Benzaiten appeared to him. She said that since he had been a priest in a previous life, he and his family would prosper and rule over Japan.

After her blessing, Benzaiten returned to the sea. As she slipped beneath the waves, Tokimasa caught a glimpse of a dragon's tail sliding across the sand from beneath her robes. This vision caused him to investigate her tracks in the sand and he found three dragon scales that had flaked off.
Benzaiten Appears to Hôjô Tokimasa (notice she holds 3 scales)

These three dragon scales became their 紋 mon (family crest) as the Hōjō clan rose to prominence during the Kamakura period in Japanese history.  They changed history by facing off with invading Mongols, spreading Zen Buddhism, and the foundation of Bushido. But they also had secret police and had very secretive meetings at private locations to control Japanese society.

Sometimes when you find this symbol in Japan it is part of an antique shrine. But sometimes it is in places that could represent a secret meeting spot. Does the secret cult of Uga-jin 宇賀神 still have power?

Could there be secret meetings still happening to this day? Nahhh…


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