Japan region seeks full-time 'ninjas' for tourism

Wanted: six full-time ninjas who have a way with words and can do backward handsprings. Pay: about $1,600 a month. Central Japan's Aichi prefecture said it is hiring full-time ninjas -- the martial-arts masters and stealth special assassins of feudal times -- to promote tourism in the area known for historic Nagoya castle. Newly hired ninjas will receive a one-year contract with monthly pay of 180,000 yen ($1,580) plus bonus, said Satoshi Adachi of the prefectural government's tourism promotion unit. They will also perform acrobatics, demonstrate the use of their trademark "shuriken" -- ninja star -- weapons and pose for photographs with tourists, he told AFP on Friday. A poster the prefecture created says the ideal candidates are ones who "enjoy being under the spotlight even though he or she is a secretive ninja". Japanese speaking ability is preferable, but non-Japanese individuals passionate about history and tourism are welcome as the troupe will sometimes perform in English, Adachi said. "Our ninjas also have to be good at talking to promote tourism, although ninjas are basically required to be secretive," he said. They also "have to be able to do backward handsprings and some dance moves", he added. Successful candidates will go through a one-month training course in April. The prefecture is accepting applications until March 22. Men and women aged 18 or above of any nationality can apply. Nowadays ninjas are mostly confined to history books and fiction. But they are also used to promote Iga, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Tokyo, a city near the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto that was once home to many ninjas. And last year, governors and mayors from prefectures around the country traded their usual suits for ninja costumes to announce the launch of a "ninja council". The not-so-stealthy move comes as local governments turn to tourism as an economic growth driver ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.