The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Tour for Experiencing Ninjas and Ninjutsu

Ninjas in Japan at present is the important tourism

As you will know already, ninjas are famous around the world. In Japan, both the government and private enterprises see the ninja tourism industry as an area of growth in the future. For this reason, ninja related tourism is very important to Japan. The birthplace of ninjas, Iga and various ninja related activities and entertainment that have been developed are drawing in huge crowds from both Japan and overseas. Letfs find out about them!

The Ninja experience package

Ninja trains of Iga railway

Ninja trains on the Iga railway

First of all, I am going talk about the " ninja pack ", sponsored by Misugi - Resort Hotel and Iga - Ueno Tourism Association. In this tour, when tourists arrive at Misugi Hotel, they receive ninja costumes and secret scrolls. At the same time, the tourists are given some missions in the hotel, Iga railway, and Ninja museum of Iga-Ryu like finding treasures in them. After the job, guests enjoy a characteristic dinner which consists of the specialties of Iga. They eat foods such as shabu-shabu, in which specific beer, made from brewers' rice and unpolished rice are used. When this beer is poured into a heated pot, the steam soars out like a smoke screen used by ninjas.

Foreign visitors attracted by ninjas and ninjutsu

According to The Ninja Museum of Iga - Ryu (ˆÉ‰ê—¬”EŽÒ”Ž•¨ŠÙ) , sightseers from overseas to Iga have been increasing every year. In 2013, the tourists from foreign countries to the institution was 13,661 , which was 7.2 % of all visitors. Up to 2005, the ratio was within 0.5% so the foreign customers in tour groups have gradually and definitely grown in last few years. The person in charge of publicity says that it is an amazing rise and that it is thanks to the steady efforts like promotions.
There is a lot of information around now. The Ninja action group Ashura , introduced in another article is one of them. Since 2008, Ashura has held performances abroad in countries such as Taiwan, Korea, U.S.A , China, and France. A certain tourist from Taiwan says, " I knew of the existence of ninja on TV but this is the first time that I actually saw them moving for real. They are so speedy just like supermen. It is wonderful that Japan has such people " . Further, in July in 2014, Iga - city hosted " Iga - Ninja movie festival " to collect video works about ninja, this was supported by Iga city and Mie prefecture. The mayor of Iga city emphasized the attention on ninja by saying " Today, ninjas are being paid so much attention from all over the world. This is the greatest chance for Iga city, we hope to advertise the charm of Iga as the birthplace of ninja to the world " .


The secret of ninja popularity

What is the reality of the reason for the ninja boom on the world on today? A promoter of the society for the study of ninjas who is an English high school teacher in Iga, says " I guess that the background of this ninja boom exists in the psychology of people wishing for something unrealistic. Because since the Lehman Shock in 2008, the world has been filled with many unstable factors. It can be considered that people in the world regard ninjas as mysterious supermen ".
The promoter has received a lot of emails from all over the world, and he often goes abroad and gives lectures. He is eager to send information about ninjas to the world, like a ninja's beacon "Noroshi " .

The study of ninjas

Although we have mainly seen ninjas as the subject of entertainment so far, recently the tendency to research ninjas academically became more popular. Mie University began a course to learn about ninja and ninjutsu in April, 2014, which was the first trial in the Japanese science society. In the class, the analysis of old documents about ninjas and ninjutsu, or lectures toward citizens are conducted. This class already made a certain historical fact clear. It is that, in first age of the Edo period, ninjutsu had been systematized as one of the military tactics. This class came to learn this as a result of the research carried out on a certain classical document left in Iga.
Professor Yamada, who is the person in charge of this class, has received a lot of emails everyday from several places regardless, both domestically and from overseas because his activities have spread by means of his homepage. Itfs worth mentioning that in foreign movies, it is often the case that ninjas are described as baddies. Prof. Yamada analyzes the phenomenon that , " It is true that in the Middle age of Japan, ninja's main activities had been disturbing people but in the Edo period, their roles were almost always specialized to intelligence gathering and bodyguard work for important people. In the Edo period, ninjas were often drawn in " Ukiyo - E (•‚¢ŠG) " prints and their existence became emphasized so much. The image has been inherited from this and that is the reason ".
Prof. Yamada has many plans to have lectures in foreign countries. He is planning to conduct joint research about ninja and ninjutsu with other scholars. He is considering distributing videos of his lectures translated into English to the world. He says " A lot of foreign ninja fans hope to understand the ancient Japanese mind in the age of the ninja " and he hopes to transmit an excellent image of Japan too.

Foreigners enjoying ninja and ninjutsu tours

The tightrope - going by a Ninja

The tightrope - going by a Ninja

The speciality of the tour to Iga is that visitors can play with the weapons and tools of ninjas. Especially for foreign sightseers, the tour becomes something unforgettable. To begin with, they purchase a ninja costume. What kind of things can the tourists play with? Firstly, they can experience tightrope passing where a rope is tied on a slight angle tightly at both ends to keep it taut. The tourists must go to the other side while clinging to the rope. This is such an orthodox ninja training, but it may be a little too hard for men who are out of shape. Next is the special program of this tour which is shuriken - throwing. It is so hard to hit the centre of the target that if they hit it, they feel so pleased. Another attraction is the ninja's free climbing on the wall and crossing a river using special ninja shoes, these activities are very popular among tourists.
Another unusual event of this tour is mental training. As described many times, the ancestors of ninjas are thought to be trainee monks of Shugendo, called Yamabushi. The members of this tour can take part in the meditation or ascetic practice by standing under a waterfall which ninjas and yamabushis used to do. After that, participants of the tour buy some Iga souvenirs and go home satisfied.
This tour is so enjoyable and such a good opportunity as you can learn about ninjas, ninjutsu, Japanese nature and the Japanese mind.