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Group launches ninja tourism campaign

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Members of Iga ninja group Ashura demonstrated ninja-inspired martial arts Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

TOKYO >> Japan is turning to those hooded samurai-era acrobatic spies known as ninja to woo tourism.

The Japan Ninja Council, a government-backed group of scholars, tourism groups and businesses, said Wednesday that it’s starting a Ninja Academy to train people in ninjutsu — ninja techniques — and building a ninja museum in Tokyo, opening in 2018. Historically, ninja were hired by samurai to spy on enemies.

“The art of ninja is made up of various elements, such as combat, survival techniques and astronomy,” Jinichi Kawakami, known as “the last ninja” and a master of the Koga ninja school, told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. “We hope this will appeal to people all over the world.”

The council, set up in 2015, has created an official logo for certified products and movies to nurture the “ninja business,” and it hopes to promote the ninja culture globally.

Hiroshi Mizohata, council vice president, who heads the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, stressed that ninja- based fun is good for business and potentially a big part of the government’s “Cool Japan” campaign, which includes animation, video games, food and movies, especially leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The council put on a ninja-inspired martial-arts demonstration, in which a muscular actor used rope to ward off, choke and disarm an attacker, and a woman dressed in a ninja outfit did flips to recorded rock music.

It also showed a guidebook in Eng-lish highlighting ninja-related places in Japan, such as castles where ninja had been employed, a gorge used for training by Sarutobi Sasuke, a legendary ninja, and a ninja-village theme park.

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