Are you feeling bummed out that February’s two most high-profile holidays, namely Twin Tail Day and Valentine’s Day, are both already over and done with? Cheer up! While it may not necessarily tug at the heartstrings like February 2 and 14, what’s arguably the coolest holiday of the month is coming up this weekend.
That’s because February 22 is officially Ninja Day, and one town in Japan is helping people get into the spirit with a bit of shinobi-style cosplay at its city hall.
The kanji for Shiga Prefecture’s Koka City can also be read as “Koga,” which is a name Japanese history buffs might be familiar with. The Koga Ninja who were based in the area were one of the most formidable shadow warrior forces of Japan’s feudal era, and present-day Koka wholeheartedly embraces this part of its history.
▼ Even the floor of this Koka train station is decorated in a throwing-star pattern.
Japan loves its puns, and someone noticed that ni, the Japanese word for “two,” is pronounced just like the first of the three syllables in “ninja” (yes, in Japanese, “n” is a syllable all of its own). Before long, support grew for February 22 (2-22) to be known Ninja Day, a designation now officially recognized by the Japan Anniversary Association (the same group which has given its nod of approval to the aforementioned Twintail Day).
In celebration, the five-employee team at the Koka City Tourism Promotion Office has spent the week commuting and working in attire that reflects their city’s claim to fame.
Just to be clear, their workspace isn’t located in the middle of an amusement park or museum. These civil servants go about their duties right smack in the middle of Koka City Hall, just a shuriken’s throw away from the sections of the municipal government responsible for registering marriages and official residence addresses.
Speaking of shuriken, this week the members of the Tourism Promotion Office have also been handing out origami throwing stars to visitors who’ve come in to ask for information about local attractions. On Ninja Day itself, they’ll also be onboard trains on the local Shigaraki Kohgen Railway, once again making paper versions of the tossable tools of the ninja trade.
▼ The mysterious shinobi keep their masks on at all times, even when doing desk work or talking on the phone.
Obviously, the Tourism Promotion Office staff would be happiest if you celebrated Ninja Day by taking a trip to their lovely town, maybe to see Koka’s Minakuchi Castle. If you absolutely can’t make it to the home of the Koga Ninja, though, you’ll be happy to know that other organizations across Japan are also doing something special to mark the occasion, with specific details available here on the English-language version of the official Ninja Day website.