Photo/IllutrationDressed in ninja gear, professor Shigeto Kiyokawa, second from right, attends a news conference held at Aomori University. (Daichi Itokura)

AOMORI--Major airline All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) will offer a package tour of sites related to the Hayamichi no Mono ninja group apparently once active in this northern prefecture.

Participants will visit old single-story houses believed to have been used by the feudal-era agents in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, in addition to enjoying a live show performed by a ninja club at Aomori University.

Hayamichi no Mono (those who take shortcuts) is believed to have operated in the Hirosaki Domain.

Shigeto Kiyokawa, 57, a professor at Aomori University’s department of pharmaceutical sciences, who founded the ninja club to pursue research on ninja, and other officials held a news conference on Aug. 25 at the school to announce the plan.

“Aomori ninja are not well-known, but I’m sure they will attract attention particularly with their relations with feudal warlords,” Kiyokawa said.

According to ANA’s Aomori office, the capacity is limited to about 20 participants per three-day tour, which will use flights from and to Osaka Airport from November to around March. The company will solicit tourists starting from mid-October.

Kiyokawa made a proposal for ANA to operate the tour, saying that the prefecture’s history could help promote tourism. He had been moving forward with the project since March.

The scholar also said it has been learned from Edo Period (1603-1867) documents that Sugiyama Hachibe, a grandson of powerful warlord Ishida Mitsunari, organized a group of ninja to guard the Ezo region in northern Japan. The group was apparently led by the Munakata family.

An old map shows that the houses believed to have been the ninja mansions had been lived in by people who had the surnames of Sugiyama and Munakata, leading to possibilities that the ninja homes were associated with the Ishida family, according to Kiyokawa.