Japan sets up ninja body to promote culture of legendary mercenaries, tourism

Kyodo

Tales of the legendary ninja abound in Japanese films and anime, but more tourists will be able to experience the culture first-hand after a new organization launched Friday honoring the mercenaries.

It comes amid growing calls overseas for a single ninja association at a time when various groups are working separately to promote ninja culture, especially in the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“We want this to lead to a nation of kinship and a huge cultural boom,” Mie Gov. Eikei Suzuki told a news conference the same day. Mie is renowned for the Iga School of ninjutsu, the tactics and way of life of a ninja.

Dressed in traditional ninja attire and supported by kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo among others, Suzuki pretended to throw ninja stars and displayed the organization’s logo, which features the kanji for the fabled spies and assassins.

The organization is targeting foreign tourists to promote ninja culture nationwide. Five prefectures historically famous for ninja — Kanagawa, Nagano, Mie, Shiga and Saga — are part of the initiative.

The organization’s website will offer information in Japanese and English, and it is planning promotional events nationwide on or around Feb. 22, which was recently coined “Ninja Day.”