Destinations Asia

Japanese Town Offers Training Camps for Wannabe Ninja Tourists

Aug 09, 2013 8:16 am

Skift Take

A classic example of using history to draw tourists, this museum and camp are a smart way for the somewhat-removed town to lure tourists from nearby Osaka.

— Eliza Ronalds-Hannon

Free Report: The Future of Personalized Marketing in Travel

specialoperations  / Flickr

Ninja show at Iga Ninja Museum, Ueno, Japan. specialoperations / Flickr


A town in Japan is encouraging tourists to sign up to its ninja-training school and learn the art of warfare.

Ever fantasised about throwing a ninja star? No? Perhaps silent stealth is a more useful skill for the 21st century.

In Japanese folklore, ninjas were some of the country’s most legendary assassins but now tourists can heed the call of the black robes too.

Anyone fascinated by ninja culture and in possession of a warrior spirit can learn what it takes to become a modern-day fighter spy at a camp in Iga, east of Osaka.

Hopefuls are told they will be schooled in skills essential to ninjitsu warfare, such as the arts of espionage, sabotage and infiltration.

To begin with, novices are invited to select robes which come in a range of colours, reports the EPA news agency.

Then they are tested with various training exercises. Some, you might imagine, are intrinsic to life as a ninja, such as star-throwing target practice and scaling vertical walls.

Others, including crawling along a rope and hauling yourself across a river, would not look out of place at a fitness bootcamp or a children’s adventure weekend.

There may be no better place to train however. Iga, where the camp is located, has a proud ninja history stretching back to the 15th century.

It was here, on plains protected by mountains, that many ninjas – a more working class warrior than the samurai – rose to become the Iga-ryu, a force of clans to be reckoned with in feudal Japan.

There is a museum in town containing centuries-old ninja texts and shows are put on for tourists to demonstrate traditional assassination methods used by the ninja. There is also a shop where the whole family can deck themselves out in ninja dress.

The White Phoenix Castle, also known as Iga Ueno Castle and Hakuho, is nearby. Built in 1585 it has the highest walls of any castle in Japan in order to prevent them being scaled by enemies.

Iga also holds an annual ninja celebration called the Iga-Ueno Festival.

The hour-and-a-half training course that shines a light on ninjitsu’s “world of shadows” costs around £10 ($10.50.)

Tags: ,

Next Up

More on Skift

Holiday Inn Express Turns to Digital and a Comedian to Build Its Brand
Daily Travel Startup Watch: Turismocity, VisaTrak And More
BREAKING: Concur to Be Acquired by SAP for $8.3 Billion
Making Business Travel More Personal for Next-Gen Business Travelers