“THE NINJA” exhibit coming to Tokyo in July!

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RocketNews 24 (by Kay):

Who hasn’t been fascinated by the ninja and their legendary skills? Well, this special ninja exhibit should certainly help you learn more about their mysterious world!

We all love ninjas, don’t we? But how much do we really know about them? Although much about these “secret agents” of the feudal era remain a mystery, the academic world has been busy trying to uncover as much fact as possible about them. Happily for ninja fans, the public will get to share in some of the insights that researchers have gained into the world of the shinobi (literally “stealth”), as ninja are sometimes called.

The exhibit is based on scientific research on the ninja led by Mie University, and the exhibit hall has three distinct areas, each representing the elements of “mind, skill and body” (shin, gi, tai), in which the ninja were highly trained.

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As you move through the exhibit, you’ll have the opportunity to practice throwing shuriken stars, improve your jumping power and learn secret operative skills, such as memory enhancement techniques and special breathing techniques as well as ways to send secret messages. You’ll also be able to see ancient ninjutsu manuscripts and ninja weapons on display. Now, that certainly sounds like a whole lot of secret agent fun!

THE NINJA exhibit will run from July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon) at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo’s Odaiba area. If you’re going to be in Tokyo during that time, it could be an excellent opportunity for you to get a glimpse into what the true world of the ninja may have been like. We hope you enjoy testing your stealth skills!

Exhibit Details:
The Ninja
July 2 (Sat) to October 10 (Mon)
Venue: National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)
Tokyo-to, Koto-ku, Aomi 2-3-6 (Access information)
東京都江東区青海2-3-6
Admission: 1,600 yen (about US$14.50) for adults, 1,000 yen (900 yen on Saturdays) for children of grade-school age to 18, and 500 yen for preschoolers  years old  (*Free admission for children 2 years old and under)

Source: THE NINJA exhibit website

Six professional ninja jobs being offered by Japanese tourism board, women and foreigners welcome

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Japan is looking for a few good shinobi.

If you’re feeling sad because you weren’t chosen as one of the two samurai being recruited  in Aichi Prefecture this month, cheer up! It turns out there’s now another opportunity to become a professional sword-wielding warrior, as Aichi’s tourism board is now looking to employ six new ninja.

Similar to Aichi’s samurai-themed Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad, which also operates under the name Hattori Hanzo and the Ninjas, is a Nagoya-based group that makes live appearances to promote tourism to the Aichi area and Japan in general to both domestic and overseas travelers. As a ninja, your work tasks will include putting on awesome martial arts stage shows and instructing kids in proper shuriken throwing technique.

At 180,000 yen a month, the Hattori Hanzo Ninja Squad starting salary is identical to that of the Nagoya Hospitality Generals Brigade. The Ninja Squad also looks to be an equal opportunity employer. Not only does the group include kunoichi (female ninja)…

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…the applications seem to be open to non-Japanese would-be ninja as well, as evidenced by the fact that the Ninja Squad has made its recruitment information available in English as well.

A high degree of athleticism and acrobatic talent are of course prerequisites for the job, as are these seemingly contradictory, yet in this case totally justified, personality traits:

● A desire to be in the spotlight, even though you’re a stealthy ninja
● A fondness for talking with others, even though you’re wearing a mask and hood
● A kind heart, even though you’re carrying a sword

If you meet all those criteria, and you think you’d look good in black, applications can be found here, and will be accepted until March 22.

 

Olivia Munn as Psylocke in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse”

 

Get ready for the first appearance of the Olivia Munn Psylocke.

Check out a new image of the Olivia Munn Psylocke and read on for the actress’ thoughts on getting the character right

ComingSoon.net (by Silas Lesnick):

This summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse is set to mark the first major appearance of the mutant known as Psylocke on the big screen. As you can see from a newly-released image, 20th Century Fox is committed to making the Olivia Munn Psylocke true to the character in the comic book and, in a new interview with CNET, the actress explains why she’s proud of her take on the psionic mutant.

“I’ve loved Psylocke for so long,” Munn tells the outlet. “She’s a really, really strong badass female character in this comic book world where a lot of times the women don’t get to be strong and badass. You see a lot of superheroes [who] don’t always want to kill, and they’ll avoid it if they can. She’s never had a problem killing, and I like that she was the bad guy that had no problem being the bad guy. She’s telekinetic and telepathic so she can read your mind. She can create anything with her mind. To win any, she can just create a mountain and have it fall down on you, but she chooses to create a sword so she can kill up close and personal. I always thought that was really cool and badass.”

Like quite a few Marvel mutants, Psylocke’s comic book history is a bit strange. Elizabeth Braddock first appeared in 1976’s “Captain Britain” #8 as the twin sister of the UK book’s title hero. It wasn’t until a decade later in the pages of “New Mutants Annual” #2 that Braddock, a telepath, took over the body and abilities of a Japanese ninja, Kwannon, becoming the X-Men member known as Psylocke.

Whether Olivia Munn’s Pyslocke will have such a convoluted origin story remains to be seen.

Said to be the conclusion of a trilogy started with X-Men: First Class and continued with X-Men: Days of Future Past, the Bryan Singer-directed X-Men: Apocalypse is set for release on May 27, 2016.

Need a set of samurai armor for your cat or dog? This pet supply shop can help

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Turn your adorable pet into a noble warrior…who’s still adorable!

There seems to be rising demand for samurai fashion, and we’re big proponents of strapping on a set of lamellar whenever the opportunity presents itself. Now, that opportunity has come to pets with wanko kacchu, or doggy armor.

This samurai-style protective gear is offered by Kandaya, a pet supply (or “pet souvenir,” to use Kandaya’s phrasing) in the town of Kurayoshi in Tottori Prefecture.

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If that purple and green color scheme looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same palette used for the Eva Unit-01 giant robot of science fiction anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. There’s also a more traditional set of doggy armor which was first introduced in April.

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Aside from its 50-50 blend of cute and cool, the doggy armor is actually tied into the city’s literary background. Kurayoshi is where the grave of Satomi Tadayoshi is located. A famous samurai, Satomi is said to have been the inspiration for one of the characters in the epic novel known as the Hakkenden, or The Legend of the Eight Dogs.

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Kandaya rents doggy armor out of its shop at a price of 500 yen (US$4.20) for one hour for the original pattern, or 1,000 yen for 90 minutes for the Evangelion-style suit. Granted, the odds of ninja attacking you while you’re strolling around Kurayoshi are extremely slim, but it’s good to know that should you meet with some hostile shinobi, your pet will be properly outfitted.

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Shop information
Kandaya / かんだや
Address: Tottori-ken, Kurayoshi-shi, Uomachi 2568-2
鳥取県倉吉市魚町2568-2
Open 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays
Telephone: 050-3564-0345
Website

Newly established Japan Ninja Council promises to be your one-stop website for all things ninja

RocketNews 24:

When you think of “cool Japan,” it’s hard to overlook ninjas, those stealthy spies and assassins with more tricks up their sleeve than a magician in a parka. And yet it seems these timeless icons of Japanese culture have largely been overlooked by the national government’s Cool Japan in favor of AKB48 spin-offs and abacuses.

So instead, a band of 11 Japanese governors and mayors have assembled to create the Japan Ninja Council (JNC) with the sole aim of reminding everyone how cool ninjas are. Having officially launched on 9 October they aim to collect every bit of information on ninjas, including their history and culture, and provide it to anyone who wants to learn more about these elusive figures.

All 11 founding fathers of the JNC took part in an opening ceremony last Friday to celebrate its birth. They include the governors of Kanagawa, Shiga, and Saga Prefectures along with the mayors of Odawara, Ueda, Iga, Koga, and Ureshino.

The council will be led by its president, Mie Prefecture Govenor Eikei Suzuki, and vice-president, former Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Mizohata. Rounding out the group is prominent kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo the Eleventh in a supporting role.

▼ Most members decided to look the part for the council’s launch

Unfortunately since they decided to launch on a Friday before a long weekend, nothing much has happened yet. The JNC website “ninja-official.com” is up but only has a brief history of ninjas and a video about a ninja weapons show in Iga. It is a fairly cool video though.

Japan Ninja Council
Official WebsiteTwitter
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Nightingale floors: The samurai intruder alarm system Japan’s had for centuries

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RocketNews 24:

For centuries, Japan has taken pride in the talents of its craftsmen, carpenters and woodworkers included. Because of that, you might be surprised to find that some Japanese castles have extremely creaky wooden floors that screech and groan with each step.

How could such slipshod construction have been considered acceptable for some of the most powerful figures in Japanese history? The answer is that the sounds weren’t just tolerated, but desired, as the noise-producing floors functioned as Japan’s earliest automated intruder alarm.

The specially constructed floors were called uguisubari. Literally translating as “bush warbler guard watch,” uguisubari are more commonly referred to in English-language texts as nightingale floors.

In installing nightingale floors, planks of wood are placed atop a framework of supporting beams, securely enough that they won’t dislodge, but still loosely enough that there’s a little bit of play when they’re stepped on. As the boards are pressed down by the feet of someone walking on them, their clamps rub against nails attached to the beams, creating a shrill chirping noise.

▼ The place where the uguisubari magic happens.

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▼ Nightingale floors in action

As you can see/hear in the videos above, equipping a hallway with nightingale floors means that with every step someone takes, he announces his presence. This makes it incredibly difficult to move around stealthily, and thus nightingale floors were used as a countermeasure against spies, thieves, and assassins. By accounting for the size of the noise and the direction it was coming from, they could even be used to help pinpoint the interloper’s position.

Not just anyone could afford nightingale floors, but you can find them in historical seats of power. Kyoto’s Nijo Castle, built as a residence for the shogun during visits to Kyoto, is probably the nightingale floor location best-known to international travelers, but it’s not the only place to see this clever and classic home security system.

▼ Nijo Castle

▼ Higashi Honganji Temple, also in Kyoto

Of course, all of this raises one important question. If your security needs are high enough that you decide to put in nightingale floors, odds are you also have guards keeping an eye on your castle. So how do you tell if those chirping footsteps you’re hearing are coming from a trusted sentry or enemy ninja?

The solution is, like the floors themselves, elegantly simple. In order to tell friend from foe, the lord of the castle or captain of the guards would designate a set rhythm for allies to adhere to when walking on the nightingale floors. If they heard their “nightingales” singing at a different speed, they knew they had an uninvited guest, and that it was time to sound the alarm.