People from all around the world are fascinated by ninjas. Ninjas have been part of the popular Japanese culture for so long that they’re inseparable from Japan. Be it ninja-themed restaurants or ninja games on the Internet, you name it, it has been all over the country. However, apart from popular culture, ninjas have been in the folklore and history of Japan for centuries before it even gained popularity abroad. There are many things about them we don’t even know yet. Believe it or not, there are actual scholars who have been studying the ninja culture for so long, unraveling the mysteries slowly.
Ninjas are said to be exactly the opposite of samurais who are usually strict and straightforward. Ninjas are dishonorable masters of stealth, theft, assassination, spying, vandalism, guerrilla warfare, and other dark elements. However, over time, some samurai families got involved in ninja training and other secret operations. Japan has seen instability in the form of wars and feudalism, especially between the 15th and 17th centuries. These were also the years of the Sengoku (戦国) era when Japan saw a tremendous rise in trade with neighboring countries such as China. It led to a sharp increase in spying and other illegal activities in Japan. People usually hired ninjas to perform secret missions to gain dominance over trade or military in a region.
There are many things you can find out by studying about ninjas such as Japanese history, war tactics, weaponry, philosophy, martial arts, folklore, and so on. There are many cool and interesting things to know about ninjas. For example, they are often associated with superhuman abilities; they used to practice certain rituals which were unique; they used to have a secret code language, too, which only they could understand. There is plenty of research that could be done on ninjas and some people are seriously doing so.
Central Japan is the homeland that saw the rise of the ninja culture during medieval history. The City of Iga (伊賀市) in Mie Prefecture (三重県) used to have many ninjas and secretive training schools operated by certain families.
The idea of setting up a state-of-the-art research facility for ninja studies came from history professor Mr. Yamada of one of the best universities in Central Japan, Mie University (三重大学). Yamada initially began a course with the support of learning resources from the Iga Ninja Museum in 2013. Applications came like a flood, thus making him choose the participants by lottery. There were Ninjutsu masters who taught the class about ninja techniques and related topics.
Mie University is currently compiling a huge list of ninjas and preparing research resources in both English and Japanese to attract local and foreign enthusiasts. There are many documents, scripts, and tools that require research to decipher or find their purpose. The facility is aimed at bringing all ninja researchers, fans, historians, and collaborators together in finding out awesome facts about ninjas.
Furthermore, this is going to be the very first attempt to promote ninja studies in the whole world. It would be the pioneer of ninja research and is going to start from July 2017 as announced previously by the university faculty. If not July, the research facility is going to start by the end of 2017.
Since Meiji Restoration (明治維新), ninjas started to gain immense popularity as folklore tried to elevate them as heroes, and sometimes as invincible superhumans. The current popular culture related to ninjas is encouraging tourism in Japan. For instance, Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) recently hired real ninjas to attract visitors from all around the globe. Ninja cakes, ninja hotdogs, ninja comics, ninja costumes, ninja games, etc. are also seen everywhere. From radio to television to movies, the subject or theme of ninjas is extensively covered.
With the beginning of the ninja research, it can be said that Japan is focusing on reviving the ninja culture in this modern era. We can even see a full-fledged Ninja University in the future offering courses in different ninja-related subjects. There could be another modern ninja society to protect Japan from the evil, who knows?
If you want to publish your research on ninja-related topics, you now have an option at Mie University’s Iga Ninja Research Facility. Do utilize this opportunity and contribute your fandom towards something more cool and creative.