Japanese city is facing a ninja shortage

July 19, 2018

from Business Insider:

A small Japanese city is facing a ninja shortage — even with salaries as high as $85,000


Japan does not have enough ninjas.


In an episode of NPR's "Planet Money" podcast, Sally Herships visited Iga, a small city in central Japan that claims to be the birthplace of the ninja.


Each year the city of about 100,000 swells by about 30,000 as tourists come to experience the annual ninja festival.


Iga, however, is suffering from depopulation. "It's facing a shortage of those two key things you need to keep an economy humming: stuff to sell and people to buy the stuff," Herships' cohost Stacey Vanek Smith says.


Iga is also losing young people who don't want to live in the rural countryside. To revive the local economy, the mayor of Iga, Sakae Okamoto, is promoting the city's ninja heritage with the aim of drawing more tourists.


Women dressed as ninjas throwing "shuriken" during a ninja festival in Iga


"Right now in Iga, we are working very hard to promote ninja tourism and get the most economic outcome," Okamoto told Herships. "For example, we hold this ninja festival between late April to around the beginning of May. During this period visitors and also local people come here. Everybody will be dressed like a ninja and walks around and enjoys themselves — but recently I feel that it's not enough."


Japan is experiencing a major tourist boom — the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates that almost 29 million tourists visited Japan in 2017 . That's an increase of almost 20% from the year before.


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