Afternoon in the life of a Ninja

Hannah from the UK team, and Yu from the Japan team spent the afternoon with descendants of a genuine Ninja clan in Tokyo. Not knowing what to expect from the experience, both were in for a real treat, and an unforgettable afternoon!

History

Arriving at the well-hidden location for our afternoon with the Musashi Ninja clan, experience leader and ninja Vanessa greeted us. Wearing head-to-toe in black, she welcomed us to the dojo where training with descendants of a genuine Ninja clan, known as the Musashi Clan, takes place.

Training takes place in a discreet dojo in Tokyo

The Musashi Clan comprises families and individuals who have connections to the Shibatas, a group of samurai warriors who devised and created weapons and tools, and trained their servants to act stealthily. The Shibata served the shogunate for 265 years before becoming independent. Those now involved in the Musashi clan aim to share this particular part of Japanese culture with the world, through seminars, workshops and hands-on experiences. Today Ninja would correspond to the role of a “secret agent,” and they trained in the art of nin-jitsu, which involves meditation.

The adventure begins

To begin our experience, we entered a completely dark room. We were promptly instructed to remove our shoes, leave our belongings, and kneel in the centre of the tatami-floor space. As Vanessa lit some candles, it became clear we were in the presence of two other ninjaThey suddenly sprang into life as they silently moved around the dojo. Next, we participated in a ritual, showing respect to the ancestors of this ninja clan, before the lights came up and we were formally introduced to the two ninjas present. We then changed into ninja attire (ninjas actually used to wear navy blue, not black as the Hollywood films would have us believe), before beginning our own Ninja training.

Watch and learn: Ninja-training involves discipline and patience

Moving like a ninja

Over the next two hours, we practised how to move and think as ninjas do. We learnt to control both our bodies and minds, as well as learning about the history of ninjas in Japan. Although both the ninjas spoke Japanese, Vanessa expertly translated throughout to give us a completely seamless experience.
It’s difficult to divulge too much about this wonderful experience without spoiling the surprise! In short, any guests who choose to partake in the Ninja Experience are certainly in for a real treat!

The Musashi clan can tailor the programme to meet individual needs. For families, the chance to learn how to jump over obstacles silently, and throw a shuriken, gives a great feeling of achievement. For those more interested in the history of ninja in Japan, there’s a less active version of the programme. Instead, there’s more opportunity to watch the ninjas display their skills, and ask questions about training and ancestors.

Into Japan Specialist tours offers clients the rare opportunity to learn about the fascinating Ninja from descendants of a genuine Ninja clan in Tokyo. You'll interact with those who continue to train in the art of Ninja, and learn about the importance of controlling mind and body to perform to the best of your ability. Dressed in traditional Ninja attire, you'll learn how to move with ease and agility and have a taste of what it would take to be a Ninja! You'll also be able to see some of the weapons traditionally used by Ninjas. Keep an eye on #ijtours website for a blog entry on this fascinating experience, coming soon!⠀ ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #intojapan #ijtours #nihon #japan #ninja #history #experience #onceinalifetime #tokyo #wanderlust #adventuretime #luxurytravel #unique

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Secret weapons

A real highlight of the experience is certainly the introduction to Ninja weapons. We were shown eight different types of weapon which were commonly used. After a short demonstration of each, we were allowed to hold them for ourselves.

A weapon cleverly disguised inside an ornamental doll

The whole afternoon was a brilliant mixture of history and activity. Ninja experience provides rare insight into a fascinating world: we both came away full of energy and excitement after this completely unique active. It’s a real must for a trip to Japan like no other!

 

 

 

 

In short: An authentic opportunity to engage with ninjas at a dojo where they regularly train. The opportunity to watch, learn and participate in an immersive experience

Recommended for: Families (minimum age of 7 when accompanied by an adult), and anyone looking to add something completely unique to their time in Tokyo!

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Photos and text by Hannah Smith for Into Japan