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Japan is suffering from a ninja shortage

The fabled Beverly Hills Ninja. (Photo: Tristar)

Consider this your daily reminder that ninjas aren’t just disposable targets for Chuck Norris to kick, teenage turtles to emulate, or a billion video game protagonists to tear to shreds. They’re people, too. Not enough people, in fact, as Vice reports that the Japanese tourism industry is currently suffering from a crippling ninja shortage.

Once hailed as master assassins and spies, the role of the ninja in modern Japan has become a much more performative gig, with tourists flocking to see them show off their elaborately choreographed skills. (Not that it’s not still a grueling career path, involving physical dexterity, martial arts training, sword fighting, and more.) But the operator of the Tokugawa Ieyasu and Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad, named for a famed 16th century shogun and his most celebrated ninja supporter, says that a boom of new ninja-themed attractions has created a scarcity of qualified ninjas.


Said seller’s market is presumably a boon for any ninjas in our audience, with one recent gig offering $1,600 a month for a year of non-murderous work. One troupe operator did note that it’s frustrating to be treated to a glut of unqualified performers who think their Ninja Gaiden skills will translate to real-world mastery, though, so you might want to shore up your stuff before pulling a black T-shirt over your head and packing your cardboard katana for the trip.

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