Japanese city Iga isn’t hiring ninjas despite report of ninja shortage

By @chelean on
FILE PHOTO: Children dressed as ninjas pose for a souvenir picture during a ninja festival in Iga, about 450 km (280 miles) from Tokyo, April 6, 2008.
FILE PHOTO: Children dressed as ninjas pose for a souvenir picture during a ninja festival in Iga, about 450 km (280 miles) from Tokyo, April 6, 2008. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The Japanese city of Iga is not hiring wannabe ninjas. The city has been forced to fend off dozens of applications after a report claimed it was facing a shortage of ninjas.

Earlier this month, NPR reported in a podcast that Iga was “facing a serious problem that there aren’t enough people training to be ninjas.” According to the report, the city was offering from ¥2.56 million (AU$31,158) to ¥9.46 million (AU$1115,140) a year to successful applicants. Apparently, Iga would build a second ninja museum but it faced labour shortage on ninjas.

Puzzled Iga officials then started receiving applicants for skilled assassins. As of last week, it has received about 115 applications from aspiring ninjas from at least 23 countries, including from Japan.

NPR has since retracted its report, saying that while many Japanese cities and towns were hoping to increase their tourism through ninja-themed attractions, “there are not necessarily immediate vacancies for ninjas to be filled.”

The city of Iga, which prides itself as the home of ninjas, also warned people about “fake news,” refuting the original NPR podcast that it was recruiting ninjas.

“That’s wrong, all wrong,” Motoyoshi Shimai, an official of the city’s tourism strategy division, told Reuters. “There was no discussion about that, and we didn’t mention money.”

He added, “Most were questions about whether we were really hiring, but there were a few that begged us to employ them and tried to promote themselves. Some had real confidence in their bodies and strength.”

Although they were confused, Shimai said they were not annoyed by the applications they received. “We were made to viscerally feel how high interest is in ninjas all around the world,” he said.

Although it isn’t hiring, Iga still hopes to capitalise on the confusion.

“Iga is not officially hiring but this is where ninjas originated,” it said in a statement. “You can feel and experience their history throughout the city, so please visit us.”