Odawara ninja clan disappeared from history four centuries ago, but the city is training a new generation for a new mission.

Ninja operated in the shadowy corners of Japanese history. The exploits of a few ninja clans were so great that their names became known throughout the land, and the greatest in east Japan was the Fuma. Said to live in secluded ninja villages in the mountains of present-day Kanagawa Prefecture (Tokyo’s neighbor to the south), for roughly 100 years the Fuma supported the samurai of the Hojo clan, who controlled Odawara Castle and the surrounding domain.

Experts in intelligence gathering, sneak attacks, and disruption of enemy troop movements, the Fuma served five generations of Hojo lords, but when the Hojo were wiped out at the end of the Sengoku period, the Fuma also faded away, and have been inactive for the last 400 years. Suddenly, though, there’s been a call to revive the Fuma ninja legacy, and once again, it’s the powers that be who are asking them to fight for the glory of Kanagawa.

▼ The Odawara Tourist Association’s tweet announcing the Fuma revival program

However, since in the modern era the region is no longer under threat of invasion from covetous rival warlords, the city of Odawara is establishing a Fuma ninja training program to help promote tourism to the area The Odawara Tourist Association has put out a notice that it’s seeking “Fuma ninja applicants” for the Ninja Sword Fighting Action Performer Training Course. Over the course of 20 once-a-week training sessions with martial artist and samurai drama/ninja movie fight coordinator Yuki Yoneyama, the ninja-to-be will train in movement and combat techniques, and upon graduation will participate in live performances of shinobi skills to be held at Odawara Castle, as well as historical festivals and events in the Odawara area.

▼ An introductory video to the Fuma ninja

Considering that the clan has been inactive for the past four centuries, no prior Fuma ninja experience is necessary, but applicants with skills in martial arts, gymnastics, or parkour will have an advantage over rivals in the selection process, which will ultimately chose 15 people to take part in the training course, which will run from October to March. Japanese nationality is not a prerequisite, though those hailing from foreign realms must be able to communicate in Japanese for the sake of training and event planning. Likewise, there are no gender or age restrictions, but aspiring those under the age of 18 will require written consent from their parents (but honestly, if your parents won’t allow you to pursue your goal of becoming a ninja, it might be time to consider suing for your legal emancipation).

The first step on the path of the ninja is to submit a written application (which can be done online here) by September 27, from which promising candidates will be chosen to audition for the chance to become modern Fuma ninja.

Source: Kanaloco via Livedoor News, Odawara Tourist Association
Top image: YouTube/kankou odawara
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