The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

The Ninja Story Overseas

The foundation for the ninja boom that arose in the USA

Basically, ninja popularity all over the world today began from the explosive ninja (”EŽÒ) boom in America in the 80's. To put it plainly, it all started from the ninja film series starring Sho Kosugi. Now I am going to tell you about the reason why ninja movies and stories have gotten so many followers. In 1945, Allied forces and especially the US military defeated the Japanese army completely. American soldiers felt a great sense of fear of the Japanese troops though because they were quite strong both mentally and physically. In addition to this, Japanese soldiers did not dread even death for their country. American people developed complicated emotions for Japanese people such as fear, respect, a feeling of interest and opinion that they were strange. By 1968, Japan had become the country with the second highest GDP in the world passing West Germany.

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee


Western people had really wondered about this, because after just over 20 years of catastrophic destruction of the state, Japan had recovered like a phoenix. By nature, western people have had feelings of distaste and contempt for the Oriental world throughout history, it is called "orientalism". You can find such emotions of western people in some famous literature, for example, " Madame Butterfly (’±X•vl) ", "Oriental memoirs (“Œ•ûŒ©•·˜^) " and in movies such as " Lawrence of Arabia ". In the 70's, a man who took advantage of this complex western people had appeared. His name was "Bruce Lee". Lee had starred in a number of kung-fu movies and climbed to the top of Hollywood. Following this, Sho Kosugi (ƒVƒ‡[EƒRƒXƒM) made his debut in 1981 in a Ninja story movie.


The 80's ninja boom in the USA !

Sho Kosugi acting a Ninja

Sho Kosugi
acting as a ninja

The Ninja story movies starring Sho Kosugi were explosively accepted by American people in the 80's. Kosugi acted as ninjas so actively and fascinatingly that American audiences believed this was Japanese culture. Of course, Kosugi's ninja image was quite unlike that of a true ninja. By the way, Kosugi's movies did not succeed in Japan almost at all but American people believed the style of the ninja and ninja stories they saw in the movies. Introducing a different story, a pro-wrestler with face painting "The Great Kabuki (ƒUEƒOƒŒ[ƒgEƒJƒuƒL) " made his debut in U.S.A as " The Oriental Mystery " in 1981.


I have to tell one more story about ninjas in the USA in the 80's. In 1980, a novel titled " The ninja " was published and was a big hit in America. The story of the novel is that the hero of the novel was born in Tokyo just after WW2. He was half American and learned Ninjutsu (”Ep) . He fights with "evil ninjas". Through the influence of this big hit many " Ninja Dojos (”EŽÒ“¹ê) " were built all over the USA and a lot of "Ninja Magazines" were published. Something that decided the popularity of ninjas in the USA was " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ". This was an animation film story. Originally, "Ninja Turtles" was a black and white cartoon published in 1984. In the story, 4 "Turtle Ninjas" struggle for justice, with criminals, aliens, and other evil enemies. This story began being aired in 1990, this is still been broadcasted with great interest from kids. The important thing is that, today, ninja is being directed to young and old in America.

The popularity of the ninja story in Europe

007-You Only Live Twice

007-You Only Live Twice

Of course, in Europe also ninjas were popular too. At first in England, a ninja appeared in the movie " 007-You Only Live Twice" in 1967. The stage of the story was Japan, and the hero 007-James Bond-wearing a ninja suit fought with an evil swordsmen. This movie was second at the box office for 1967. In Japan, that was the top film among all foreign films. England has been a country that has long history of espionage so it is very natural that English people had an interest in ninjas. Today, Japanese cartoons describing about ninjas have gained enormous popularity in the world, especially in Europe. One example is " Naruto (ƒiƒ‹ƒg) "Its total number of sales through 57 volumes is 100 million with 13.03 million units copies. In France, the total sales of "Naruto" is 20 million or more and once it reached that number "Naruto" became first place in weekly sales of the entire book sales in France. The Japanese emotional story has been enjoyed by even French children.


The Ninja culture customized in the world

As the concept of "ninja" has spread all over the world so much, it is a matter of course that ninjas, who do not seem Japanese in style, appear. At "Cosplay" conventions (this is also a culture that originated in Japan), it is already a standard that cosplayers dress as ninjas which doesnft seem to be the Japanese way but their own countryfs way. Also in the world of computer games, you can find many "westernized ninjas" . The interesting thing is that, I can find some of "reimportation phenomena" of ninjas. For example, an anime made in India "Ninja Hattori-kun" began to be broadcasted in Japan in 2013. Also, some Ninja-games made abroad, are sold in Japan today. These are westernized both in the style and the story. These phenomena prove that ninjas have an international existence today.