The Mayoral Shuriken contest
as seen in a TBS Newscast.
Located on the southern end of Japan’s main island in Mie Prefecture, Iga City was long ago the home of the Iga Ninja Clan who, along with the Kouga Clan of Shiga Prefecture to the north, were one of the two prominent ninja groups in the land.
TBS News is running a video report (click the buttons under the image for streaming Real or WMV) about a most unusual revival. On February 24th, the mayors of Iga and Kouga revived the ancient rivalry often depicted in action movies when they donned “official” ninja garb and competed against each other in a shuriken throwing contest. The mayor of Kouga emerged victorious in the less-than-serious contest of skill (or lack thereof).
This isn’t the only way that Iga has celebrated the area’s claim to international fame: Yesterday, April 2nd, the Iga City Council held a Ninja Council Meeting.
All of the 70 people in attendance, from the mayor and council members to the audience, came dressed in ninja costumes. Those who could brought costumes from home, while others took the rental ninja-wear route, and some went to far as to bring decorative swords, shuriken, or headbands.
The meeting was, of course, bloodless, although the mayor, Imaoka, proposed a bill by reading from a scroll. At least one council member made sure to open a question with the very ninja-like phrase “Mono moushimasu,” meaning something vaguely to the effect of “If I may, m’lord.”
A Ninja Councilmember
reads from a scroll as photographers hover.
This isn’t the first Ninja Council Meeting, either. In April 2001 and March 2002 similar meetings were held in Ueno City (which is now part of Iga City) to promote the “Iga Ueno Ninja Fest.”
Toward the end of this March the festival’s planning committee requested a revival of the Ninja Council Meeting, and while some people who apparently lack a good sense of humor objected on the basis that city council meetings are serious business, in the end everyone agreed to support the event.
Imagine how much fun C-SPAN would be if there were throwing stars and ninjas involved.