Winner of laser shuriken battles will take home prizes including ninja sake and ninja rice.

I think we can all agree that ninja are already pretty cool. But you know what would make them even cooler? Lasers.

Thankfully, there’s a way for us to experience that combination of coolness and more coolness: the “next-generation ninja sport” e-Ninja. The “e” doesn’t just stand for “electronic,” but also “entertainment” and “egao,” the Japanese word for “smile.”

▼ e-Ninja equipment

e-Ninja is essentially a shinobi version of laser tag, where instead of using a gun, you use a laser shuriken to fling beams of infrared light at your opponent. The device looks like a large throwing star, and you swipe along a top-mounted touch pad to launch your invisible shuriken attacks.

▼ A demonstration of the e-Ninja shuriken

Another departure from standard laser tag is that in e-Ninja, you don’t aim at your opponent’s torso. Instead the vulnerable area is the head, specifically the sensors in the hachikin headband, which also come with an LED screen and speakers.

▼ When you get hit by an enemy’s attack, the hachikin vibrates to let you know you’ve taken damage.

e-Ninja is the brainchild of the Ninja Tag Association, which was formed on February 22 (Ninja Day, as you’ve no doubt got written down on your calendar). The Ninja Tag Association isn’t necessarily dedicated to the game of tag, however, but rather events that spread knowledge and enthusiasm of ninja traditions and culture in a fun, participatory way that’s visually appealing and shareable through social media (with a “ninja” tag for posts).

e-Ninja matches are one-on-one battles, in an enclosed space and with a pair of barriers for the combatants to take cover behind. Cowering in fear is not the path to certain victory, though, because even if you keep yourself completely behind cover, your opponent can still defeat you by striking the three targets along the back of your half of the field.

While ninja traditionally worked in the shadows of secrecy, e-Ninja’s creators want as many people as possible to know about the new sport, and so they’re hoping to hold a “world championship” in the most appropriate place of all: the tower of Iga Ueno Castle. During Japan’s feudal era, Mie Prefecture’s Iga district was the seat of the Iga ninja clan, and the castle grounds are also where you’ll find the excellent Iga-ryu Ninja Museum.

The Ninja Tag Association is hoping to hold the tournament on May 3, a national holiday in Japan, and looking for a field of 32 competitors (the online entry application can be found here). The winner will take home a 30,000-yen (US$270) travel voucher, bottle of specially made e-Ninja sake, and a 10-kilogram (22-pound) bag of locally grown e-Ninja rice.

Back in the old days, the samurai lords of Iga would fit the bill for local ninja activities, but wealthy warriors are a little harder to come by these days. Because of that, the Ninja Tag Association is instead turning to crowdfunding to get the competition up and running, with a campaign on Japanese crowdfunding website Campfire going on here. Reward tiers include the aforementioned sake and rice, as well as the bragging rights to say that you’ve helped fund a ninja tournament.

Source: Campfire via Japaaan
Top image: Campfire
Insert images: Campfire, Wikipedia/T@ka, Ninja Tag Association
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