TÖKYÖ — Tales of the legendary ninja abound in Japanese films and anime, but tourists in Japan can now experience the culture following the introduction of a new organization that honors the ancient mercenaries.
The organization was formed in response to interest from abroad for an organized group, especially with the increase in tourists expected for the 2020 Tökyö Olympics. Previously, various groups had been working separately to promote ninja culture.
“We want this to lead to a nation of kinship and a huge cultural boom,” said Mie Gov. Eikei Suzuki at a press conference, adding that Mie Prefecture is known for its Iga School of ninjutsu. Besides Mie, four other prefectures are historically tied to ninja culture — Kanagawa, Nagano, Shiga and Saga. All five are part of the initiative.
Suzuki was dressed in traditional ninja attire for the announcement and was supported by kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo, among others. He imitated throwing ninja stars and displayed the organization’s logo, which features the Japanese kanji character for the covert agents.
The organization is targeting foreign tourists to promote ninja culture throughout Japan. Promotional events and activities will be held around the country, on or around Feb. 22, which has been designated as “Ninja Day.”