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The Shirai Ryu were a clan of Japanese ninja in the Mortal Kombat universe credited with bringing ninjutsu and other secret martial arts to Japan from China.
For years, they were bitter rivals with the Lin Kuei, from which they had originally sprung. They were eventually wiped out by the necromancer Quan Chi, who destroyed all of the members of the clan (Hanzo Hasashi, a.k.a. Scorpion, was murdered by the elder Sub-Zero before this happened).
The Shirai Ryu was formed many years ago by a Lin Kuei warrior named Takeda. He eventually grew tired of the Lin Kuei and left the clan. However, leaving the clan is punishable by death, and Takeda was sought after by Lin Kuei assassins. He left China and returned to his homeland in Japan, where he offered his services to the lords and generals. His art gradually spread throughout Japan and developed into the art of ninjutsu. In addition to teaching his new art form, he also taught modified versions of Lin Kuei tactics, as well as revealing many of their secrets. This only further infuriated the Lin Kuei when Takeda's teachings became well-known with many followers throughout Japan. His followers became known as the Shirai Ryu.
Shirai Ryu and Lin Kuei became tremendous rivals. Takeda's clan mocked the Lin Kuei by dressing in similar outfits of yellow color and teaching modified versions of their own secrets. He managed to avoid many assassination attempts well into his later years. He was eventually killed by poison in his tea. It was never known if Lin Kuei was responsible for his death. The animosity between Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu continued after his death, as the Shirai Ryu became more prominent.
During the events of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the sorcerer Quan Chi hired members from both rival clans to find the Map of the Elements giving directions to Shinnok's amulet: Lin Kuei warrior Sub-Zero and Shirai Ryu member Hanzo Hasashi were the members of the clans respectively chosen for the task. Quan Chi had originally sent Sub-Zero to find the map, but he had also sent Hasashi in the event that Sub-Zero failed in his arduous quest. Neither warrior knew of the other's involvement until they discovered each other in the room of the Shaolin Temple containing the map. Sub-Zero killed Hanzo and retrieved the map. He gave the map to Quan Chi, and as payment to the Lin Kuei, he wiped out the rival Shirai Ryu clan.
Hanzo returned from death as Scorpion, and met his murderer in the Netherealm, where Sub-Zero had gone to stop Quan Chi from releasing the fallen Elder God Shinnok. Unable to exact his revenge, Scorpion waited until Mortal Kombat, when he confronted Sub-Zero again. This time, it was Sub-Zero who would face death in the tournament. He disappeared into the Netherealm as the demon Noob Saibot, only to have his younger brother take his place in future tournaments.
As part of a deal with the Elder Gods in order to combat the threat from Onaga, the Shirai Ryu were resurrected in exchange for Scorpion serving as the Chamption against this evil. However, their deal was only partly followed as after Onaga's defeat, the Shirai Ryu were resurrected but not as flesh and blood Humans but rather as undead hellspawn like Scorpion himself. Scorpion would take his undead clan and wage eternal enimity against the Elder Gods for the crimes they had committed.