Fancying yourself as the next ninja? This university in Japan offers a degree in ninja studies, and getting in isn't a walk in the park.
While most kids grew up wanting to be astronauts and pop stars, some dreamed of paths that aren't just incredibly difficult but somehow next to impossible.
Well, this is kind of embarrassing for most of us who wanted to be Transformers and fire trucks. I mean, the 'trucks' themselves, not firefighters!
But it was impressive for those chased dreams that don't really exist anymore. For example, you're not likely to see employers looking to hire ninjas nowadays.
Although that's still true, one university in Japan is offering studies that give us a sense of the ninja's ways.
Mie University is the First University to Offer This Unique Course
The university is located in Iga, a mountain-shrouded city once home to many ninjas. It's also one of the regions in Japan where ninja training first rose to prominence.
However, while you'd expect to train the correct combat skills, the course mainly focuses on the history of ninjas rather than practicing the fighting skills.
To enroll in the course, you have to take an exam on Japanese history and a reading test on historical ninja documents.
Yuji Yamada, a professor of Japanese history at the university in charge of the ninja center, explains:
We get many inquiries from overseas, but I have to say one thing: This is a course to learn about the ninja, not to become one.
Since the university started the course three years ago, Yamada said it enrolls around three applicants every year.
Meanwhile, Mie University just awarded its first-ever ninja studies degree to 45-year-old Genichi Mitsuhashi.
While you don't have to physically train as a ninja, Mitsuhashi embraced his studies. He spent more than two years honing his martial arts skills and learning feudal martial arts traditions.
He told Japan Times:
I read that ninjas worked as farmers in the morning and trained in martial arts in the afternoon.
With this combination, I thought I could learn about the real ninja.
Mitsuhashi is now living a ninja way of life.
What's a Ninja, Exactly?
According to Sakai Yuta, an administrator at Mie University, most people think ninjas are 'bad people in a black costume.'
However, ninjas were essentially a covert agent. They were in high demand around the 16th and 17th centuries, especially in japan.
Just like states employ CIA agents today, warlords hired ninjas to spy on or even assassinate rivals.
At the time, most ninjas were samurai, belonging to their fiefdom's warrior caste, Sakai says.