When you think of “cool Japan,” it’s hard to overlook ninjas, those stealthy spies and assassins with more tricks up their sleeve than a magician in a parka. And yet it seems these timeless icons of Japanese culture have largely been overlooked by the national government’s Cool Japan in favor of AKB48 spin-offs and abacuses.

So instead, a band of 11 Japanese governors and mayors have assembled to create the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) with the sole aim of reminding everyone how cool ninjas are. Having officially launched on 9 October they aim to collect every bit of information on ninjas, including their history and culture, and provide it to anyone who wants to learn more about these elusive figures.

All 11 founding fathers of the JNC took part in an opening ceremony last Friday to celebrate its birth. They include the governors of Kanagawa, Shiga, and Saga Prefectures along with the mayors of Odawara, Ueda, Iga, Koga, and Ureshino. The council will be led by its president, Mie Prefecture Govenor Eikei Suzuki, and vice-president, former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata. Rounding out the group is prominent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo the Eleventh in a supporting role.

▼ Most members decided to look the part for the council’s launch

Unfortunately since they decided to launch on a Friday before a long weekend, nothing much has happened yet. The JNC website “ninja-official.com” is up but only has a brief history of ninjas and a video about a ninja weapons show in Iga. It is a fairly cool video though.

▼ “Cool Japan” is people chucking ninja stars at each other.

The also have a Twitter and Facebook account set up, but so far nothing has been posted on either.

▼ Here we have a rare, unsullied Twitter feed. I love that new-account scent.

It should be interesting to see how the website grows as the JNC continues to network with ninja related businesses and organizations. The target is to reignite a “ninja-boom” in Japan leading up to the 2020 Olympics, when the world’s eyes will be on the country. Starting just after the hugely successful ninja-themed manga series Naruto ended probably wasn’t the best timing, but ninjas are cool enough that they can probably still pull it off.

With the goal of luring tourists and their lovely gold coins into ninja-themed attractions and shops, it would be a safe bet that English translations should hit the website in the not-to-distant future. But these ninjas are cagey, so you just never know what they’ll do next.

Meanwhile, the national government’s Cool Japan initiative (which has no connection to the JNC) will be holding a Wonder 500 exhibition in Toyama on 6 November. It will showcase various local products from around the country, including five kinds of umbrellas!

Japan Ninja Council
Official WebsiteTwitter

Source: Narinari.com, METI/Cool Japan (Japanese)
Top image: Japan Ninja Council

Images: Japan Ninja Council, The Wonder 500, Odawara City Official Website
Video: YouTube/Kunihiro Tateishi