JAPAN’s legendary ninjas are famous for their stealth and were said to possess a supernatural gift for invisibility.
But now martial arts experts are concerned they might be disappearing in real life, as practitioners of the ancient “ninjutsu” say there is a major talent shortage.
As tourism to Japan has grown, there has been an increasing demand to see the iconic warriors perform “ninja shows” to crowds – but martial arts squads are struggling to find candidates who are up to scratch.
Takatsugu Aoki, the manager of a martial arts squad in the city of Nayoga in the south of the country, told the Asahi newspaper: “With the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan on the increase, the value of ninja as tourism content has increased.
“There are more employment choices, while ninja shows across the country have become popular. I feel there is a ninja shortage.”
Those who do put themselves forwards, he said, lack the basic skills needed. This usually means being trained in unarmed combat, acrobatics, concealment and first aid while also being able to use throwing stars and fight with swords.