Being a mayor can be pretty boring. It generally involves an awful lot of meetings, with an awful lot of people wearing an awful lot of suits. But for one day last weekend, mayors and members of local government in Japan ditched their serious trappings and dressed up as ninjas.
Now obviously this was all a publicity stunt. Ahead of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics, leaders from Japan’s Mie, Siga and Kanagawa prefectures are hoping to boost tourism by forming a (get this) “ninja council”.
As far as we can tell, this will involve running a special ninja website, holding ninja events throughout the country and promoting relevant tourist destinations like the “Ninja Village” theme park or the Mie region’s ninja museum. It’s basically all ninja, all the time.
According to Hiroshi Mizohata, part of the council and former head of the Japan Tourism Agency, the move is in answer to popular demand: as he told the Japan Times, ninjas are a subject that “always comes up” when the Agengy promotes tourism abroad. This is despite the fact the black clad feudal-era spies are only mentioned in a few dubious historical records, Japan’s ninja academies were all set up in the 20th century, and some argue they never existed at all,
These historical question marks probably won’t bother the mayors too much, though: in this picture, most of them appear to have mixed up ninjas with James Bond.