• Japan In Focus

Mie: Battle to Decide Top Ninja Held in Iga, Home of Ninja

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Combatants dressed in ninja costumes fight with soft swords in a tournament to find the best ninja in Japan, which was held in Iga, Mie Prefecture.

IGA, Mie — A martial arts tournament to determine the best ninja in Japan was held in Iga — the home of ninja — in Mie Prefecture on Dec. 9.

About 20 participants from across Japan battled it out at the Sukodo former school, which served samurai children in the Edo period (1603-1867).

Local ninja enthusiasts planned the tournament for the first time in an effort to expand ninja culture. The competition held at this event is in chambara, a kind of sword fight play under proper rules, with soft swords as the “official weapon.”

Defending themselves only with their sword, competitors also try to strike their opponent’s body. The first person to hit their opponent twice within three minutes wins the game.

In the first half of the tournament, participants learned the game though practice battles. They dressed up in ninja costumes — some wearing a bear headdress — and practiced against one another.

During real matches, they watched each other’s movements and tried to strike their opponent’s torso and legs with the sword.

“We want to offer an active ninja culture in Iga,” said Hidetoshi Oi, a representative of the tournament.