National | CHUBU CONNECTION

Nagoya Castle opens ninja school to train 'apprentices'

Chunichi Shimbun

A ninja school opened in Nagoya Castle in Nagoya’s Naka Ward earlier this month, attracting tourists from at home and abroad.

Tourists can take an hour lesson from Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas, a group of men and women dressed in ninja outfits and tasked with boosting tourism in Aichi, and receive a certificate as a ninja apprentice.

The group said they hope to attract 10,000 people to become “ninja apprentices.”

On July 16, the day the school opened, a man dressed as ninja leader Hattori Hanzo and a woman dressed as female ninja Suiren gave a lecture on ninja weapons to 42 Japanese and foreign attendants, including small children and people in their 60s, who had gathered at the castle tower.

The ninjas explained how to use kusarigama, a Japanese sickle connected with a metal chain to a heavy iron weight that can be thrown at an enemy from a distance, and shikomizue, a concealed sword disguised as a cane, which can be used for breaking in to a building as well.

They also gave a demonstration of ninjutsu (ninja techniques) and how to throw shuriken (throwing stars).

Osuke Sugiura, 7, from Yokosuka Elementary School in the Aichi city of Tokai, managed to throw a shuriken in the center of the target.

“That’s the first time I was able to do it,” said the fan of the ninja group.

Felix Klompmaker, 5, a tourist from the Netherlands, practiced dueling with Hattori Hanzo using fake swords.

“I was a little scared because he was dressed in all-black,” Klompmaker said.

The ninja group renewed its seven members in May, chosen from over 200 applicants from Japan and overseas.

The prefecture organized the free ninja lessons to make use of the group’s popularity. The lessons will be held from 1:30 p.m. at the castle on weekends and public holidays until Sept. 25 (excluding the period when the castle summer festival is held). All up, 42 people can attend each lesson on a first-come-first-served basis.

Participants are required to pay the entrance fee to the castle.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on July 17.

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