There’s no sexy-no-jutsu training here.
The life of a ninja has to be pretty sweet. You get to sneak around on rooftops in the night, go on top secret missions, throw shuriken at bad guys, and, if Naruto is to be believed, you can even summon huge animals to fight for you and defeat people with the power of friendship.
Yeah, that’d be fun. Too bad it’s impossible to actually, become a ninja, right?
Wrong! If you want to be a ninja, all you have to do is go to the Ninja Academy in Nara Prefecture.
▼ There’s also shaved ice for sale! (Parking at the rear.)
Okay, so you might not learn how to summon spirit animals or anything at the Ninja Academy, but you can learn what actual Japanese ninja were like, and try out their weapons and training for yourself.
To see what the Ninja Academy was all about, we decided to visit for ourselves. It’s open every weekend with one- and two-day courses available. Since we weren’t quite sure how hardcore we were at the time, we decided to opt for the one-day course.
▼ A view of the inside of the dojo.
As soon as we arrived, our sensei immediately started our training. The one-day course was only five hours long, but he was determined to make it an extremely rigorous and thorough five hours.
▼ Most of our training consisted of learning how to use five different ninja weapons: sword, shuriken, blowdart, bow and arrow, and gun.
Yes, that’s right, gun. The academy leader told us that his ancestors taught the use of firearms all the way back until the end of the Edo Period. Ninjas had no scruples when it came to what weapons to use, and if a gun was the right tool for the job, then they’d use it without hesitation.
▼ First came sword training, with a very disappointed-looking sensei
watching us in the background.
For sword training, we used an actual sword to try to cut through thick tatami mats. It took about a dozen swings each time to finally cut through it, but once we got over the fear of dropping the sword and cutting our toes off, it got a lot easier.
▼ “Take that Orochimaru!”
“Uh, nothing sensei!“
▼ Next up was shuriken practice.
▼ We used targets to practice with, including a picture of Naruto for you to vent your ninja-frustrations on.
▼ Then came blow-dart training, for when you need to assassinate silently.
▼ “That target kind of looks like the Uchiha family symbol….”
“NOTHING SENSEI! STOP SNEAKING UP ON ME!”
▼ Next was archery…
▼ …and then finally came firearms. Because sometimes a shuriken just doesn’t cut it.
▼ Lunch was included in the 3,500 yen (US$30) price.
We got a Ninja Udon and riceballs.
▼ After that it was time to go, but not before snapping a picture with our sensei.
Man, he looks so much cooler than us. Maybe someday….
Are you ready to practice for your chunin exam? Or to train so you can finally take down Akatsuki? Or just to try throwing a real-life shuriken?
If so, and you’re in the Nara area, check out the Ninja Academy. At 3,500 yen for a five-hour experience (ninja lunch included!), it’s practically a steal. And considering who’s teaching it, maybe it is….
Address: Nara-ken, Nara-shi, Sakaharacho 2188
Hours: Sat/Sun only (by appointment), 10:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m.
Phone: 06-6974-1186 or 090-8165-2488