In the times when we can’t travel to Japan, there are several opportunities to visit the country virtually. Some things have already been written about them for the Virtual Japan series here on AVO Magazine, but there is so much more to do.
Other than strolling through a coastal town, how about learning more about the world of Ninja, especially the Fuma Ninja? In the past few months, on selected Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the morning and evening (UK time), an online Ninja experience was held at the Ninja Museum in Odawara Castle. During this live experience, you get the basics of what exactly a Ninja was and what they did. The Ninja we know from anime series and films are not exactly what they were in the era of shoguns and samurai. Besides all the information, you will also be able to follow a training of a number of important Ninjutsu elements. These are traditional techniques that are also useful in the modern world.
The focus of this online experience is on the Fuma Ninja (or Shinobi as they were also known), who helped the Houjou family stay in power in Odawara. The entire experience is led by Hiroshi Jinkawa, who is a teacher and practitioner of the Ninja arts in Japan and has his own Ninjutsu school. The live experience from the Ninja Museum lasts approximately 40 minutes, will be in Japanese and English and you are welcome to ask questions as a participant. Furthermore, the participation fee is 1500 yen, which is not much at all.
Obviously, such an online presentation does not give enough time to tell much more about the history of the Fuma Ninja and the techniques they used. But since the basic elements are explained, which certainly will open some eyes, it is a great invitation to visit the museum whenever possible. In addition, the museum can be found on the site of Odawara Castle. It is definitely worth spending a day or two in Odawara and visit this location, especially during spring season.
Since the Ninja Experience was presented from the Ninja Museum, you also get a glimpse of what the location itself looks like and what you can see. From start to finish, you get quite a lot of information and illustrations to process, while at the same time being presented with the basic elements of the subject. After all, such a museum is a location for several hours of learning pleasure, and it is good to know that the information is presented in Japanese and English. It is also very suitable for children, as they are invited to do things under the guise of becoming a ninja. The museum itself is still quite new, as it opened in 2019.
The host of this experience, who is also a translator for the ‘viewers at home’, tries to bring over all parts of the presentation in an amusing way, in cooperation with Hiroshi Jinkawa, there is an immediate click between the host, the sensei and the viewers, while you are still aware of the fact that the story has already been told several times to the previous participants of the online experience. That can be called pretty impressive! Because they are open to questions, there is definitely room for spontaneity. Furthermore, you are also invited to participate in the training, which provides extra interactivity. You will be given a breathing technique, but also a way of walking. All in all, a nice short session for young and old, in which you will walk away with extra knowledge about the ninja.
It is unclear when there will be another Online Ninja Experience in the near future, as they are currently taking a break and are deciding on a new schedule for later in 2021. Keep an eye on the Discover Japan website.