Mie: Acrobatic Female Ninja Returns to Stage after Motorcycle Accident

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Mio Watanabe

IGA, Mie — A popular acrobatic ninja actor recently returned to the stage after overcoming a severe leg injury.

Mio Watanabe, 35, has performed spectacular backflips and sword fights as “Kunoichi Mio” (female ninja Mio) at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu, taking advantage of her background as a gymnast in her school days.

In October last year, she had a motorcycle accident that shattered a bone in her left instep and severed two of her tendons. She was hospitalized and underwent repeated surgeries through the end of January. She was told it was impossible to return to her work as a ninja performer. Those around her were set on making her retire.

But Watanabe pushed through a painful rehabilitation. In March, she was able to put on shoes and go out, and in April she even began practicing ninja moves.

On July 28, Kunoichi Mio appeared on stage for the first time in about 10 months and performed flawlessly, earning a big round of applause from the packed auditorium.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Mio Watanabe performs on stage at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu in Iga, Mie Prefecture.

“I really do love to be on stage,” Watanabe said. “All that rehabilitation paid off.”

Hanzo Ukita, 63, the representative for Ashura The Iga Ninja Group, to which Watanabe also belongs, said: “Back in the Warring States period [about 500 years ago], some ninja lost their limbs and eyes. Having overcome a serious injury, Mio should be able to grow to a higher level.”