First Ninja Exam to be Held in Tokyo
The first ever ninja exam to be held in Tokyo will take place this October, with extra points awarded for turning up in full ninja gear.
Calling all wannabe ninjas! It has been announced that the Koga-style ninja exam (Kōga-ryū Ninja Kentei) will be held in Tokyo for the first time this autumn on 22nd October, 2017.
The exam this autumn will mark the tenth time that the Kōga-ryū Ninja Kentei has been held, and the first time that candidates will be able to sit the examination in a location other than Shiga prefecture, from where the Kōga style originates.
The exams in Tokyo will take place at Zōjōji Temple in Minato Ward, a temple that is associated with the Tokugawa shogun clan. The links between the Kōga ninja and the Tokugawa household date back to the Warring States period (c. 1467-1603), when the ninja of Kōga and Iga helped Ieyasu Tokugawa as he was escaping from Osaka to Mikawa in Aichi prefecture via Iga in Mie prefecture in the “Honnō-ji incident”.
This year’s beginner’s level exam will include fifty multiple choice questions on subjects that every ninja should know inside-out, such as the activities of the Kōga ninja during the warring States period (hint: there’s a big clue in the previous paragraph!), and the authors of various ninja-related novels and manga, as well as demonstration of practical skills vital to the success (not to mention, survival) of any self-respecting ninja, such as hurling of shuriken (throwing stars).
Candidates who attend the exam dressed as a ninja will receive up to five extra points for their efforts, so don’t forget to pack your blowgun, throwing stars, and grappling hook as well as your pencil and eraser.
The ninja exam has been held in Kōga city every year since 2008. The following year an intermediate level was added, and in 2014 an advanced level including essay-writing questions was also introduced. Candidates who successfully pass their exam are awarded their very own ninja licence in the form of a graduation scroll.
Prospective candidates can apply to sit the exam to Kōga City Tourism Association by fax or email. It costs 3000 yen (£20.60) to sit the exam - a relatively small price to pay for becoming a fully licensed ninja! Exam places are limited to the first 200 people to apply.
Enter the World of the Ninja
If you can’t wait until October to become a fully-fledged ninja - or if sitting paper and pencil exams just isn’t your thing - then why not head to one of these ninja-related sites in Japan and immerse yourself in the shadowy world of Japan’s infamous arch assassins...
Iga Ninja Museum, Mie
Although it looks like an ordinary house from outside, the building is in fact studded with a variety of uniquely ninja-like contraptions, such as trap doors, hidden compartments, and revolving walls. If you survive the house without being ambushed by an invisible ninja, head to the stage to watch a real-life ninja show featuring authentic ninja skills and real weapons!
Togakushi Shrine, Nagano
A further uphill trek brings you to Togakure Ninpo Museum at the upper shrine, dedicated to the local Togakure style of ninja. Here, it’s your turn to learn about the tools, weapons and techniques used by the ninja in the museum’s exhibition, find your way out of the serpentine maze inside the ninja house, and hone your skills on the throwing star range.
Ninja Temple in Kanazawa, Ishikawa
If a temple bristling with fortifications sounds a bit strange, that is because Myōryūji Temple was actually not a temple at all! It was actually a military outpost for nearby Kanazawa Castle disguised as a temple, designed so that its guardians could escape and warn the castle inhabitants in case of an incoming invasion or attack. You can view the inside of the temple-cum-garrison on a guided tour.
Ninja Akasaka (restaurant), Tokyo
World Samurai Summit
The inaugural World Samurai Summit was held in November 2016 in the city of Nagakute near Nagoya in central Japan. Last year's event was a samurai- and ninja-related extravaganza featuring everything from processions and reenactments to sword-fighting displays and performances on the Ninja Corps Demonstration Stage. Look forward to the event again this autumn, with plenty more of the same - more details to follow.