Ninjas wanted as Japan region promotes 'warlord tourism'

image copyrightAichi Prefecture
image captionApplications are open to anyone over the age of 18

Sharpen your shuriken, Japan's Aichi prefecture is looking to hire six ninjas in a bid to boost tourism.

The roles are full time and the pay is ¥180,000 ($1,600; £1,100) a month, the job ad says (in Japanese).

Physical fitness and acrobatic skills are a must says Aichi prefecture, which hopes to promote "warlord tourism".

Ninjas were 15th Century Japanese mercenaries specialising in espionage, assassination, sabotage and other forms of irregular warfare.

Such trickery was considered beneath the samurai, or military nobility, who had to observe strict rules on fighting honourably.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionIga in neighbouring Mie prefecture has a popular ninja museum

The job specification has been somewhat changed for the advertised roles.

It involves stage performances and "PR work" for radio and television. Combat experience as a ninja is not required and a track record of killing people for money would not help your application.

Ideal candidates should "enjoy being under the spotlight even though he or she is a secretive ninja," Satoshi Adachi of the prefecture's tourism promotion unit, told AFP.

As the troupe will sometimes perform in English, Japanese language skills are preferred rather than essential, Mr Adachi said, although a passion for history and tourism is a requirement.

Training is also a little quicker these days: winning applicants will be up to speed in the arts of wooing tourists with back flips and sword play by the end of April.

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe ninja legend inspired imitators all over the world - even here in Gaza

Successful applicants will be performing in Nagoya Castle and various other locations.

Aichi prefecture may be hoping to see some of the success seen by neighbouring Mie prefecture's Ninja museum in Iga city, which combines historical details with acrobatic performances inspired by tales of the ancient warriors.

Iga, which brands itself as the "home town" of ninja, was once home to many ninjas, also known as shinobi, who emerged as a distinct phenomenon in the volatile "warring states" period of the 15th Century. They gradually disappeared as Japan was unified in the 17th Century.

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image captionThese days dance skills are more of a requirement than a killer instinct

While ninja were a very real historical phenomenon, much popular folklore about them is based on legend and myth.

But while once they were looked on as little more than a historical curiosity of more interest to foreigners than Japanese themselves, prefectures are increasingly keen to capitalise on historical ties to tap into the country's tourism boom.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to increase tourism even further in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Anyone over 18 can apply to be a ninja in Aichi, and applications close on 22 March.

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