Iga ninja become victims of stealthy, speedy infiltration.

On a late summer night, when the air was hot and still, trouble was brewing in Iga. The town, located in Japan’s Mie Prefecture, is one of the birthplaces of ninja tradition and tactics, with a base of shinobi activity located not far from Iga Ueno Castle.

But on this night, the shadow warriors were the ones being targeted, as a thief or thieves forced their way into the stronghold with the intent to plunder the riches hidden within. The alarm was raised, but the infiltrators proved too swift to capture, escaping into the night with a box filled with the Iga ninja force’s coins and other currency.

Sadly, this is not a folktale from the mists of Japan’s feudal-era history, but the actual chain of events that transpired earlier this week when burglars struck the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum. At roughly 1:30 a.m. on Monday, security camera footage shows a car pulling up near the museum’s administrative office, a one-story wooden structure separate from the rest of the facility. At least one person can be seen getting out of the car and forcibly changing the angle of the camera to obscure what happens next, but investigators say a crowbar or similar device was used to force the office’s door open.

▼ Unfortunately, the office is unmanned at night, and not guarded by the museum’s team of martial artists.

The break-in triggered the office’s security system and the police were summoned, but by the time they arrived on-site the thieves were gone, as was a 50-centimeter (19.7-inch) tall 150-kilogram (330-pound) safe, which had been storing the museum’s recently collected money from ticket and souvenir sales. The museum says there was at least one million yen (US$9,430) in the safe at the time, and investigators estimate the entire crime took only three minutes.

The speed of the operation, as well as the brashness of robbing a ninja stronghold, might at first seem like the work of a rival ninja clan, such as the Iga’s historical rivals, the Koga ninja of Shiga Prefecture. However, the more likely scenario is that the burglary is simply the work of opportunistic non-ninja crooks. The Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, which also houses a “ninja house” with hidden passages (pictured above) and holds ninja skill demonstrations/workshops, is a popular tourist attraction. With last weekend being the final two days of Japan’s Obon summer holiday season, the thieves likely expected the museum’s safe to be fuller than usual, and the timing of their attack came before the museum, which closed at 5:30 on Sunday, would have had a chance to deposit the weekend cash in the bank.

Making the incident even more upsetting is that the Ninja Museum, like just about every sightseeing attraction in Japan, is struggling financially as the coronavirus pandemic severely impacts people’s ability and willingness to travel. The museum’s manager lamented the loss of the revenue that the organization sorely needed to help cope with the recent economic downturn. The police are still investigating, and hopefully the culprits will be brought to justice so that the ninja can have the revenge they deserve.

Related: Iga-ryu Ninja Museum
Source: NHK News Web, Yomiuri Shimbun via Nifty
Top image: Iga-ryu Ninja Museum
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he thoroughly enjoyed his visit to the Iga Ninja Museum without ever once thinking “I should rob this place.”