Want to be a Ninja? Japan has a certified course for that. The country recently produced the world's first-ever graduate in Ninja Studies.
45-year-old Genichi Mitsuhashi just became the first person to complete the two-year master's degree in ninja studies offered by Mei University in Central Japan.
The course allows students to hone their martial arts skills, study history, and finer details about the ancient feudal warriors.
Ninjas were ultra-secretive security agents in the payroll of feudal Japanse Lords who can be dated back to the 14th century and even further back. Referred to in ancient Japan as Shinobi, the work of the ninja soldiers was to gather intelligence and information while maintaining absolute discretion.
But apart from being skilled guerilla warriors, sleuths, spies, saboteurs, and assassins, ninjas were also known to be farmers who liked to live among nature. Central Japan is said to be the home of the original ninja warriors, many of whom lived in the province of Ige.
Mitsuhashi not only studied the ninja history but has also adopted the lifestyle of ninjas. "I read that ninjas worked as farmers in the morning and trained in martial arts in the afternoon," Mitsuhashi told Japan Times.
Much like the ninjas of yore, Mitsuhashi grew vegetables during the day and pored over ninja studies by night. As per a report in CNN, he even moved to Ige to understand the Shinobi way of life. Apart from studying to become a ninja, Mitsuhashi also does farming and uns and inn.
Mein University set up the world's first research center focusing on ninjas in 2017. The Ninja studies course was introduced in 2018.
Though ninjas exist no more, the art and skillful mastery of the ninja tradition continues to inspire art, films, animated cartoons, design and more. Japan has also been waking up to the tourism potential of the ninja heritage.
Several ninja themes restaurants and cafes have sprung up in cities like Tokyo where "ninja masters" can teach basic ninja martial arts moves to passionate tourists.