Ninja to take the stage in Paris

June 28, 2013

By TATSUYA YASUDA/ Staff Writer

IGA, Mie Prefecture--After a successful campaign in Washington, five ninja will take their moves and weaponry to Paris to strengthen a movement that already involves samurai.

The Ashura ninja performance group, named after the god of war, will put on shows during Japan Expo 2013 at the Paris-Nord Villepinte Exhibition Center from July 4 to 7.

“We want to spread ninja throughout the world,” a group member said.

Ashura, based in the Ninja Museum of Igaryu in Iga, Mie Prefecture, held a show in the U.S. capital in April 2012. It was hugely successful and spread the international popularity of the group.

The Ashura ninja have also performed in Hawaii, China, South Korea, Taiwan and Spain.

The Paris event will be the group’s ninth overseas performance, but the first in which all five members will perform together.

Japan Expo has been held in Paris every year since 2000 to introduce Japanese traditional and pop cultures, including anime and manga.

In Japan Expo 2012, female singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, pop group Momoiro Clover Z and manga artist Naoki Urasawa appeared, and about 220,000 people visited.

This year, “yuru-chara” mascot characters, such as Kumamon from Kumamoto Prefecture and Hikonyan of Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, are expected to take part.

Since 2011, Nagoya-based Buke-Bunka Kenkyukai (Group to study samurai culture) has sent samurai performers and craftsmen who produce samurai “yoroi” (armor) and “kabuto” (helmet) to Japan Expo.

After Japan Expo 2012, the convention organizer urged the group, “Next time, please send ninja.”

Ashura, which had sufficient experience performing overseas, was asked to participate.

During the four-day Japan Expo 2013, Ashura will perform three times in the main venue, which can accommodate 15,000 people, and four times on a smaller stage with an audience capacity of 400.

In the 30-minute show on the main stage, the five performers will show ninja moves involving “shuriken” (throwing stars), “kumade” (rakes) and “kama” (sickles). No explanations will be given.

For shows on the smaller stage, explanations will be provided in French, including information on how ninja used daily items, such as chopsticks, as shuriken.

“When I heard that we will perform on the main stage in front of as many as 15,000 people, I thought, ‘It’s unbelievable,’” said Kazuki Ukita, 53, an Ashura representative. “We want to show how skillful ninja are by performing shows no one has ever seen.”

Visit Ashura’s website at (http://www.k3.dion.ne.jp/~ashura/).

By TATSUYA YASUDA/ Staff Writer
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Five members of Ashura pose at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu in Iga, Mie Prefecture, on June 20. (Tatsuya Yasuda)

Five members of Ashura pose at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu in Iga, Mie Prefecture, on June 20. (Tatsuya Yasuda)

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  • Five members of Ashura pose at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu in Iga, Mie Prefecture, on June 20. (Tatsuya Yasuda)
  • Ashura members perform for U.S. servicemen in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, in November 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
  • Kazuki Ukita, an Ashura representative, slices straw pillars with a Japanese sword during a performance for U.S. servicemen in Takashima, Shiga Prefecture, in November 2012. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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