• AFP-JIJI

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They came in the dead of night; no one saw them and nobody knew they were there. Moments later, the ninja museum was missing a safe full of cash.

Under cover of darkness, thieves vanished with the 150-kg strongbox containing around $9,500 in admission fees paid to the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum.

The museum is dedicated to the legend of the ninja — the covert martial arts masters and agents of sabotage who prowled the shadows in feudal times, and were famous for secrecy and stealth.

But police called to investigate the crime found that the culprits had been less than subtle, forcing their way into the museum’s office with a crowbar, Kyodo News reported.

The safe, which was stolen early Monday, contained takings from around 1,100 weekend visitors, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported.

The museum in Iga, Mie Prefecture, features a traditional ninja house and offers interactive experiences, allowing visitors to learn about the warriors’ skills, throw star-shaped weapons and watch ninja shows.

Iga is home to one of the two most famous ninja clans. Mie University set up the world’s first research center devoted to ninja in 2017 and opened a graduate course on the subject a year later.

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