KOKA, Shiga - Test-takers gathered for an examination to test and certify their ninja knowledge last month in Koka, Shiga Prefecture, the base of the Koka ninja group.
Ninja are said to have used special tools and magic-like techniques as masters of espionage, assassination and other covert missions in feudal Japan.
A total of 113 ninja fans aged 11 to 79 took the test on June 15 at Shinobi no Sato Purara, a facility for local citizens' activities, gathering from Shiga and other prefectures as well. The test was the seventh of its kind and the first to include an advanced-level exam, in addition to the beginner- and intermediate-level tests.
Fourteen people took the advanced test, which included an essay question about the relationships between castles and ninja. Results from the top-tier test will be announced this month.
Takers of the beginner-level test answered 50 multiple-choice questions. Extra credit was given for wearing well-executed ninja costumes and demonstrating skill with throwing stars, so many made an effort to behave like genuine ninja.
Fifty-five people passed the beginner-level test this year and received a scroll-shaped certificate from the municipal tourism association.
Ninja illusion at Chubu Airport
A large optical illusion involving ninja has been set up at Chubu Airport's international arrival area in a bid to attract international visitors to Iga, Mie Prefecture, the base of the Iga ninja group.
The image was set up on June 20. During the ceremony, an official of the city's tourism promotion department entertained arriving travelers by posing in front of the piece in a black ninja costume.
Iga has been promoting its history as the birthplace of ninja, legendary figures that enjoy strong popularity at home and abroad.
The 3-by-3 meter image depicts four ninja in action and five throwing-stars in front of a background of a castle and pine trees blurred to create a forced perspective. The ninja and throwing-stars look as if they're coming out of the surface of the picture and rushing straight at viewers. At the bottom of the image is an English catchphrase: "Find the real ninja in Iga City-Ninja's birthplace."