Monday, April 22, 2013
What cowboys have been to U.S. entertainment, the Ninja -- the stealers in -- are in contemporary Japan. But a Ninja is less like a cowboy than a dirty-dealing Superman. Originally a medieval cult of unconventional warrior-spies, as presented in the vogue now sweeping Japan from toddlers to grandparents they have the power to turn themselves into stones or toads, are as invisibly ubiquitous as gremlins, and can do things like jumping ten-foot walls and walking on water.
Television carries Ninja dramas from morning until night, kabuki and the serious stage put on Ninja plays, eighteen Ninja movies were made in 1963 and 1964, bookstores carry two hundred fiction and non-fiction titles on the occult art, children's comic books and the adult pulps are loaded with their adventures, toy stores sell Ninja masks and weapons, and even Kellogg's corn flakes has a Ninja mask on the box. It has got to the point that kindergarten classes have been asked to pledge they will not play Ninja, the police are plagued by moppet bands of Ninja, and hardly a castle wall in Japan has not been attacked by amateur Ninja scalers.
The legend of the stealers -- in as much a part of Japanese culture as Robin Hood and King Arthur are of the English -- has a reasonably firm if little researched basis in history, and its artifacts can be seen even today. The supernatural powers of the popular Ninja character are only an exaggeration of some remarkable accomplishments of his prototype, some of them strangely similar to things we regard as peculiarly modern. The Ninja did practice the art of invisibility -- ninjutsu -- through choice of clothes and other quite natural means. The inventions they used in their profession anticipated the skin diver's snorkel and fins, the collapsible boat, K-rations, the four-pronged scatter spike for traffic sabotage, tactical rockets, and water skis.
Date of Report: April 22, 2013
Number of Pages: 8
Order Number: G1359
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Posted by Penny Hill Press, Inc. at Monday, April 22, 2013