Japanese City ‘Is Not Recruiting Ninjas,’ After Hiring Reports Went Viral

Dozens of wannabe ninjas have had their hopes shattered after the Japanese City of Iga said that media reports suggesting they were hiring the traditional assassins were false.

City officials were forced to issue a statement titled Please Be Careful of Fake News, in which they confirmed Iga is not recruiting ninjas. The city had received calls and emails from over 100 aspiring ninjas.

Iga, a small city in central Japan about 400 kilometers west of Tokyo, is known to be the home of ninja with a museum and ninja “experiences” for tourists.

The confusion was apparently triggered by a news report by American radio station NPR.

The Podcast

The NPR podcast published on July 16 spoke about Iga’s tourism strategy that is centred around promoting its ninja heritage. The city is planning to open a second ninja museum but faces a labor shortage, according to the NPR report.

“That labor shortage, it’s not just construction workers and architects, it also extends to ninjas” journalist Sally Herships said on the program. “There’s a ninja shortage, or to be accurate, a ninja performer shortage.”

“Today, ninja performers can earn anywhere from about $23,000 to $85,000, which is a really solid salary,” she said, but added that there were no immediate vacancies.

Iga Mayor Sakae Okamoto in ninja costume on the NPR website. (Screenshot/NPR website)

NPR later issued a statement that said the summary of the podcast was incorrect.

NPR had previously stated that Iga is “facing a serious problem that there aren’t enough people training to be ninjas, not even for $85,000 a year.”

It appears that the incorrect job opportunity was picked up secondhand and spread on social media, spurring ninja hopefuls to apply for the nonexistent jobs.

Job Inquiries

“That’s wrong, all wrong,” said Motoyoshi Shimai, an official of Iga’s tourism strategy division, referring to the ninja shortage in the report. “There was no discussion about that, and we didn’t mention money.”

The city received telephone and email inquiries from 115 ninja wannabes in 23 countries, including Japan.

“Most were questions about whether we were really hiring, but there were a few that begged us to employ them and tried to promote themselves,” Shimai added. “Some had real confidence in their bodies and strength.”

A Japanese descendant performs a Ninja fight during “Hana Matsuri” (Buddha’s Birthday) celebrations in Curitiba, Brazil, in this file photo. (Orlando Kissner/AFP/Getty Images)

City officials were surprised but not annoyed by the fuss, Shimai said.

“We were made to viscerally feel how high interest is in ninjas all around the world,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report

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