The Japanese city of Iga, which is about 280 miles from Tokyo in central Japan, claims to be the birthplace of the ninja.
Apart from Japan’s demographic crisis, the country is facing another, lesser-known and not so harmful – Japan does not have enough ninjas.
Business Insider reports that in an episode of NPR’s “Planet Money” podcast, Sally Herships visited Iga, a small city in central Japan that claims to be the birthplace of the ninja.
The annual ninja festival brings them about 30,000 tourists.
However, Iga is suffering from depopulation. “It’s facing a shortage of those two key things you need to keep an economy humming: stuff to sell and people to buy the stuff,” Herships’ co-host Stacey Vanek Smith says.
According to the publisher, the city is also losing young people who don’t want to live in the rural countryside. To revive the local economy, the mayor of Iga, Sakae Okamoto, is promoting the city’s ninja heritage with the aim of drawing more tourists.
“This job does have a lot to offer,” Herships explains. “First of all, the pay is quite competitive. Today, ninjas can earn anything from $23,000 to about $85,000 — which is a really solid salary, and in fact, a lot more than real ninjas used to earn in medieval Japan.”
Iga needs to attract labor forces to work and live in the rural city as the ninja tourism scheme is extended.
As they’re not seeking bonafide ninjas to run around cutting off heads with swords future workers need to know the next: “Ninja is not an inheritable class. Without severe training, nobody could become a ninja. That’s why they have silently disappeared in history,” Sugako Nakagawa, the curator of the local ninja museum, told Reuters in 2008.
For today things aren’t bettering. As a whole Iga attracted just 43 new young residents last year while alone lost 1,000 residents.