NAGOYA - Several applicants living overseas have applied to join a group of ninja in Aichi Prefecture.
Of the 20 applicants for a position that became available in the team this year, 15 were foreigners, indicating the deep-rooted popularity of ninja amid an increase in the number of visitors to Japan.
The group, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hattori Hanzo Ninja Corps, which debuted in 2015, promotes the charm of Aichi through its activities mainly at Nagoya Castle and through performances held at the weekend.
The ninja corps started to draw attention after a foreign news agency reported in 2016 that an administrative body was recruiting a ninja, according to Sankosha Co., an advertising agency based in Nagoya.
It is commissioned by the prefecture to promote the team.
Applications came from about 200 people living overseas, including in the United States, Russia, Italy, Tunisia and Macedonia, according to Sankosha.
Requirements for the position included a passion to be a ninja and experiences in performance and sports as well as Japanese language skills.
A man from the United States won the highly competitive race and played an active role as the team’s first foreign ninja for a year.
Foreigners accounted for 70 to 80 percent of the total applicants for a position in the ninja team from the next year onward.
This year, John Patrick Jandernoa, a 26-year-old man from Michigan, won the position and joined the team as its second ninja from abroad.
Jandernoa, who started learning dance when he was in junior high school, acted in musicals and other performances until last year.
A ninja admirer from childhood, he came to Japan after graduating from a university. He was waiting for a position in the ninja corps to open up while he studied Japanese.
On Thursday, Jandernoa debuted at an event held at Chubu Centrair International Airport in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture.
Dressed in a black ninja costume, he presented a series of acrobatic moves such as a somersault with four Japanese team members.
Jandernoa expressed his eagerness to perform ninja techniques across Japan.