Mayor baffled by sudden surge of foreigners calling in and wanting to become the next Naruto.

Iga in Mie Prefecture is perhaps best known as the city of ninja, a place where the famous Iga Ninja once operated from. The district is so steeped in shadow warrior tradition that aspiring university students even have to answer ninja-related exam questions to gain admission.

But recently, news of a severe ninja shortage in Iga emerged on a number of English-language websites around the world. This is despite the reportedly high competitive salary of ninja performers, which ranges anywhere from US$23,000 to $85,000.

One English-language podcast reported that the ninja city suffered from a population decline, and suggested that “Iga is hoping the ninja draw will gain momentum and maybe turn things around for Iga and even bring some wannabe ninjas in from other parts of the world to train and study in Japan.”

It was opinion, but people took it literally.

Rumors that Iga suffered a shortage of highly-paid ninja performers quickly spread like wildfire, causing aspiring shadow warriors to quickly call in for a chance to become part of Japan’s ninja history.

Iga’s mayor, Sakae Okamoto, was confused by the surge of calls. According to him, he was interviewed by an American reporter on 5 July, but the content only touched on regional ninja promotion efforts, and not about recruiting ninja at all.

▼ So for the record, Iga is NOT looking for ninja recruits.

The ninja city has received a total of 120 calls from 14 different countries since then, and has even warned residents of the ongoing “fake news” on its official city website. Among the callers was one who thought to boost his chances of landing a $85,000-a-year ninja performer job by saying he had a black belt.

An amused Okamoto said of the ninja hopefuls, “I hope they’ll take this chance and come visit Iga.”

It’s wonderful to know that Japan’s ninja culture is still appreciated by many foreigners, and though Iga isn’t currently recruiting more shadow warriors into its ranks, they are actually looking for the deadliest shuriken slinger on the planet.

Sources: Iga City via The Mainichi Shimbun, IT media
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