IGA, Mie Prefecture--To help improve ties between Japan and China, a Japanese group will resort to espionage and unconventional warfare tactics in the Chinese capital.
Ninja performing group Ashura will give a demonstration of "ninjutsu," which members describe as the methodology behind spying and strategic activities, at the First Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services on May 30.
It will be Ashura's second overseas performance this year after making an appearance in Washington in April during the U.S. National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Ninjutsu was developed mainly in Iga, in present-day Mie Prefecture, and in Koka in what is now Shiga Prefecture. It involves various disciplines, ranging from stick fighting and unarmed combat to techniques with swords, stealth and disguise.
Ashura's 20-minute performance in Beijing will be part of the fair's Japan Night.
“We want to demonstrate ninjutsu in China, the home of martial arts, so the people will know more about Iga,” said Kazuki Ukita, who heads the Ashura group.
Ashura's show will be one of the events and exhibits sponsored by Mie Prefecture, which is setting up a booth in the Japanese Pavilion.
There will be no verbal explanation for the Chinese audience during the show, an Ashura member said.
The group, based at the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, plans to use “shuriken” handheld weapons, including throwing stars, “kusarigama,” a sickle on a long chain, and “jitte” sticks, in its performances.
“Ninjutsu is said to have been introduced from China,” Ukita said. “I want to make our show a steppingstone for friendly relations between Japan and China.”
In recent years, Ashura has demonstrated Iga-style ninjutsu around the Pacific Rim: in Taiwan in 2006 and 2007; South Korea in 2008; and Hawaii in 2009.
Although a show was planned in China’s Guangdong province in February 2011, it was canceled due to widespread anti-Japan demonstrations after a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japanese patrol boats around the disputed Senkaku Islands.
“Although ninja is well-known in the United States, most people misunderstand and think that ninja originated in Edo," said Ashura member Tomoyoshi Ukita. "I want to show the world that a ninja town existed in Iga, Mie Prefecture.”
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