Small Japanese City Running Out Of Ninjas Despite $85,000 Salary

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Serious question people: would you rather have a full-time career where the salary is modest at best, or be a legitimate ninja?

I mean a proper ninja, trained in Japan with actual ninja weapons? Not the fake rubbish your friend bought at the market.

If the answer is yes, then you’ll be glad to know you can offer your services to a city in Japan, who are facing a ninja shortage crisis – despite a lucrative salary of $85,00 a year.

Your only challenge is to convince the ninja elite, an outsider such as yourself, is worthy of learning the true art of ninjutsu.

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Japan’s ninja crisis was highlighted in a recent NPR podcast episode of Planet Money, after host, Sally Herships, visited Iga, a small city in central Japan which claims to be the birthplace of the ninja.

Each year, the small city plays hosts to tourists who come to experience their annual ninja festival.

Unfortunately though, Iga is suffering from a depopulation situation, which puts the world-renowned festival in doubt for future generations.

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Herships’ co-host, Stacey Vanek Smith, states:

It’s facing a shortage of those two key things you need to keep an economy humming: stuff to sell and people to buy the stuff.

As of this moment, the small city is losing a battle to hold onto the local youth, who are reluctant to live in the countryside.

n a bid to boost Iga’s economy the mayor, Sakae Okamoto, will look to their rich ninja heritage in the hopes it draws in more tourists.

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Speaking to Herships, Okamoto said:

Right now in Iga, we are working very hard to promote ninja tourism and get the most economic outcome.

For example, we hold this ninja festival between late April to around the beginning of May.

During this period visitors and also local people come here. Everybody will be dressed like a ninja and walks around and enjoys themselves — but recently I feel that it’s not enough.

The Land of the Rising Sun is experiencing a huge boom in tourism, with the UN’s World Tourism Organization estimating nearly 29 million tourists visited the country last year alone. It’s almost a 20 per cent increase from the previous year.

However, in spite of the rise in tourism and the economic growth which comes with it, rural areas like Iga are missing out.

Given Japan’s low unemployment rate (which sits at 2.5 per cent) it’s difficult to hire ninja-performers.

Speaking to Reuters back in 2008, Sugako Nakagawa, the curator of the local ninja museum said:

Ninja is not an inheritable class. Without severe training, nobody could become a ninja. That’s why they have silently disappeared in history.

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Hership informs her listeners of the many benefits of being a ninja-performer in Iga.

She explains:

First of all, the pay is quite competitive. Today, ninjas can earn anything from $23,000 to about $85,000 — which is a really solid salary, and in fact, a lot more than real ninjas used to earn in medieval Japan.

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Excuse me, I’m off to tell my friends and family I’m going to Japan to become a ninja.

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