June 16, 2019
Nagoya--A group of people disguised as ninja to promote tourism in the central Japan prefecture of Aichi has enjoyed a large number of applicants from overseas.
Of the 20 applicants for a position that became available in the team this year, 15 were foreigners, indicating the deep-rooted popularity of ninja amid an increase in the number of visitors to Japan.
The group, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hattori Hanzo Ninja Corps, which debuted in 2015, promotes the charm of Aichi through its activities mainly in Nagoya Castle and performances held during weekends.
The ninja corps started to draw attention after a foreign news agency reported in 2016 that an administrative body is recruiting a ninja, according to Sankosha Co., an advertising agency based in the Aichi capital of Nagoya. It is commissioned by the prefecture to promote the team.
Applications came from about 200 people from foreign countries, including the United States, Russia, Italy, Tunisia, and Macedonia, according to Sankosha.
Requirements for the position included passion for ninja and experiences in performance and sports as well as Japanese language skills.
A man from the United States won the highly competitive race and played an active role as the team's first foreign ninja for a year.
Foreigners accounted for 70 to 80 pct of the total applicants for a position in the ninja team from the next year onward.
This year, John Patrick Jandernoa, a 26-year-old man from the U.S. state of Michigan, won the position and joined the team as its second ninja from abroad.
Jandernoa, who started learning dance when he was in junior high school, acted in musicals and other performances until last year.
A ninja admirer from childhood, he came to Japan after graduating from a university.
He was waiting for a position in the ninja corps to be open while studying Japanese.
On Thursday, Jandernoa debuted at an event in Chubu Centrair International Airport in Tokoname, Aichi.
Dressed in a black ninja costume, he showed acrobatic moves such as a somersault with four Japanese team members.
Jandernoa expressed his eagerness to perform ninja techniques across Japan. Jiji Press
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