By IZURU HISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
March 5, 2020 at 07:00 JST
WAKASA, Fukui Prefecture--An old post station is going back to the future by turning to ninja for a new mission: revitalizing the town.
Wood engraver Yuichi Niino, 40, opened the first ninja "dojo" gym in the prefecture in the former Kumagawa-juku post station here on Jan. 24 along with real-life ninja master Daisuke Nishiura.
They hope that the Seireikan gym will attract tourists fascinated by the feudal-era secret agents.
"I want to contribute to the development of Kumagawa-juku by setting up a place where visitors are exposed to real ninja," said Niino, who manages the Seireikan. "We also hope that inbound tourists will come here because it is close to Kyoto."
Nishiura, 43, who lives in Minoo, Osaka Prefecture, is a ninja instructor certified by the Japan Ninja Council who has achieved the highest rank of fourth dan in nindo (way of ninja).
Niino, who resides in Kumagawa-juku, became acquainted with Nishiura through a mutual hobby.
The project came to fruition after Niino approached Nishiura to discuss ways to revitalize Kumagawa-juku.
The Seireikan was remodeled from an old house, with a number of ninja tricks added. Nishiura offers hands-on training experiences, including throwing "shuriken" stars.
The project is aimed at encouraging the reuse of vacant old houses and attracting visitors, in addition to revitalizing the historical townscape of the Kumagawa-juku post station, where travelers could stop on their long journeys for a meal and some rest.
"The ninja have also garnered attention from across the world," Nishiura said. "We want to overcome the rough times by receiving advice from local residents."
The Seireikan was refurbished from a house built in 1923 at a total cost of about 4.5 million yen ($40,760). The gym, located on the first level, has a floor space of about 50 square meters, while ninja weapons and tools are on display on the second floor.
The house is equipped with a "donden gaeshi" secret revolving door and a pitfall trap, where enemies would be locked up, as well as a "sagari gumo" device, which allows the user to slide down into a closet on the first floor from the second floor with a rope.
The Seireikan offers three hands-on courses. The introductory two-hour course teaches participants self-defense and sword-fencing techniques and gives them a certificate for a fee of 17,000 yen, including tax.
The walk-around program allows visitors to dress up in ninja attire and take a stroll around Kumagawa-juku for 60 to 90 minutes for 5,000 yen. The workshop course instructs participants in making "naruko" clappers that warn of intruders during the 10- to 30-minute class for 3,500 yen.
The dojo is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. No fee is required for visitors to observe. The introductory course is offered only on Tuesdays, while other courses are available every day. The gym is closed irregularly.
For more information, visit the official website at (http://www.seireikan.jp/).
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