Futaro Yamada, whose unique, romantic and exciting ninja novels sent tidal waves through the Japanese literary world, died of pneumonia at a Tokyo hospital Saturday, his family said Tuesday. He was 79.

A native of Hyogo Prefecture, Yamada, whose real first name was Seiya, won a literary prize sponsored by the magazine Hoseki while studying at Tokyo Medical College, from which he graduated in 1949.

His “Koga nimpo cho” series in 1958 and 1959 stirred a boom of “nimpo,” or ninja art. His subsequent 15-volume collection of “nimpo zenshu” in 1963 and 1964 — about female ninja and Koga, a region associated with the mysterious warriors — became a best seller.

Some of his ninja novels were made into movies. He also wrote romantic period novels.

Yamada won the Kikuchi Kan prize in 1997 for his longtime career as a novelist and essayist.

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