What’s the first thing you think of when you hear "ninja?"
Most people these days probably think of Naruto! But for some reason, Hattori-kun is what comes to my mind. (lol) A long time ago, I saw “Nin x Nin: Ninja Hattori-kun, the Movie” as a part of studying Japanese, and I guess it must have left an impression.
Ninjas actually existed in Japan from the Muromachi to Edo eras (1333-1868). They worked in groups as spies and assassins, traveling light, and using various techniques to take out their enemies. These days, we probably wouldn’t stand a chance if we got on a ninja’s bad side, like, instant death! (lol)
This time, we went to try the Ninja Experience at Ninja-Do, near Shinsekai in Osaka. And what I learned is that apparently, I’ve got what it takes to become a true ninja.
1 minute from the station!
First, I’ll explain how to get there. The easiest way is to take the Midosuji or Sakaisuji line to Dobutsuen-mae Station. Then, it's just a minute walk away. You can also take the Osaka Loop Line and walk from Shin-imamiya Station.
▼Dobutsuen-mae and Shin-imamiya stations.
We started from Tenjinbashisuji Rokuchome Station, so we took the Sakaisuji Line straight to Dobutsuen-mae.
▼Once you get off at Dobutsuen-mae Station, head toward exits 1~6. (left)
Go up the escalator and the ticket gate should be right in front of you. (middle)
Go out the gate, turn right, and make your way to exit 3. (right)
▼Continue up the stairs, walk a bit to the right, and you’ll see this sign. Ninja-Do is in this building.
▼Open the door, take the elevator up to the 4th floor, and you’re there.
An assault on the senses, excitement mounts!
▼As soon as we went inside, the sound of drums echoed from our left, the smell of incense filled the room, and the lights glowed red. The wall before us was decorated with exotic items. It was like the second we entered the space, the atmosphere suddenly changed, and our senses were telling us this was not just any old building.
▼Slide open the wooden door to the left, and you'll see the training space of the dojo. 8 people can enter at a time! There's a sword collection against the back wall, and from this distance, they looked like the real deal. I remember thinking, "I really hope they don't turn out to be plastic!"
Let’s hurry up and start our training!
▼First, we’re going to have to look the part. So with the help of our instructor, it’s time to begin the transformation!
▼The purpose of a ninja’s clothes is to make it difficult to be seen. And because most of their work was done in the dark, the colors are mainly black or near black! For infiltration or reconnaissance, there were times when disguises were necessary too. Monks and farmers were common ones. Many ninjas actually worked as farmers during the day.
▼Last but not least, the headband goes on and that’s it for the outfit. The headband really does make you think of Naruto, doesn’t it?
First step, the iconic ninja pose!
▼Follow after our instructor here. Don’t forget! Left hand on top!
▼Wow, they’re already starting to look like real ninja! They look like they could disappear into a smoke screen any second!
Will we all become genin with this training?
It’s not that easy! Genin may be low ranking ninja, but who knows how many hundreds of years it'd take to completely master these techniques. Well, there's no need to worry about that for today. We're just going to have fun and take it easy with the basics.
Step one is movement. Ninja’s have a special way of walking and that’s where we’re going to start. When people walk, they always make a sound. But for a ninja, that sound could prevent them from succeeding in a mission. They need to be silent when moving behind enemy lines. You could say that this technique was created as a step towards completely erasing one’s presence.
▼Practicing how to walk like a ninja, "nukiashi, sashiashi, shibobiashi"
▼You can tell it's a little different from how people normally walk. Everyone's moving so fast, the camera can't keep up!
It’s time to whip out the weapons!
▼Not all of the weapons here are for ninja, some are also for samurai.
▼The swords are actually pretty heavy. They’re not the real deal, but they were made with accurate shape and weight to give you an idea how one would feel.
▼The instructor gave us a brief demonstration on how a ninja swings a sword. His movements are so clean!
▼Then, we got in some practice ourselves before taking on the instructor. Of course, it's all choreographed. Otherwise, it could get dangerous!
Crash course on projectiles, blow darts and ninja stars!
I'd always wanted to try using these, so I was really looking forward to this part! Of course, I don't usually go about my day blowing darts at people, so I wasn't sure how hard to blow or how to angle it at first. But it was interesting and a lot of fun. It does require quite a bit of breath and concentration though. It was kind of difficult to hit it dead center, the closest I got was the edge of the yellow.
▼She also seemed to have a difficult time, but her third and final shot hit the mark!
Next up are the iconic ninja stars, or shuriken! There's a practice round using a plastic set first.
▼The first challenger steps up, and he’s got great from! Now, will he be able to hit his target?
▼Ah, unfortunately it bounced off and hit the ground. But, don’t worry about messing up. You get three shots with the plastic ones and three more with the metal, so just keep at it!
▼Time to move on up to the metal! He got all three to hit the board, but lol, that last shot...
▼I gave it a try too!
Ooooohhhhh!!!!....somehow one of them hit right in the center!!!! Sadly, I didn’t get it on video...
Time for some cool pics!
With that, the training is just about over. But, before you go, take the chance to get in some more pictures in these outfits! There are other props you can use too.
▼Lying in wait for an ambush?
▼Tengai, a straw helmet that hides the face.
Before we started, we actually ran into a group that came in to train before us. They were tourists from Belgium. We got to talking about Ninja-Do and they told us about how great their experience was. They even shared some of their pictures.
▼These guys love Japan and it’s even their second time in Osaka. Well, they definitely look like they know what they're doing!
It’s time for these ninjas to step out of the shadows.
As an option, you can rent the clothes for an hour after you're done. Since you're already changed, you can just go right away. The instructor gave us a map and some recommendations on where to go. First stop, Tsutenkaku!
▼The ninjas of the past worked in hiding, but today, they work best with an audience! lol
▼Picture at Tsutenkaku!
The hour passed and we went back to Ninja-Do!
A complete ninja experience!
Most people who watch anime know about Naruto, myself included. So I always wanted to experience what it was like. And I finally got my chance today!! I got to try blowing darts, throwing ninja stars...! It was so much fun! I was so pumped when I hit the bulls eye! It was such a rush!
Learn the Techniques and Become a Ninja Like the Main Character of a Certain Manga!