- It must really suck to get so completely outplayed in your own field
Ah, ninjas, those silent, deadly sneaks of the night. Everyone knows their reputation – you will not see or even hear them coming before it’s too late. Such is their reputation for stealth.
Except that now a gang of thieves has beaten the ninjas in their own game. On August 17, under the cover of darkness, burglars broke into the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in Iga, Japan, and made off with nearly $10,000 in cash.
It’s an embarrassing defeat to the supposed masters of stealth, particularly since the thieves weren’t actually all that subtle, according to CNN Travel. The police arrived at the scene after receiving an alarm in the early hours of the morning only to find clear signs of a break-in.
The burglars had forcefully opened the museum entrance and made off with the cash. They hadn’t just grabbed some money that had been lying around either – they made off with an entire 330-pound safe that housed admission fees from more than 1,000 visitors.
“It was a three-minute job. It was planned, they must have scoped us out and singled us out,” a museum official told CNN. According to him, there was no staff at the museum at the time of the crime.
Sheesh, it’s one thing to miss sneaky thieves, but letting them barge in through the front door and steal a whole safe? We have to say, this isn’t a great look for the ninjas.
‘Really Terrible’ Timing
Part of the Iga-ryu Museum’s charm is that it’s sits in the middle of a forest, like a supposed hidden ninja village. Unfortunately, the remote location ended up playing against the museum – it made it an ideal target for burglary.
The museum’s security camera feed showed that on the night of the robbery, a car pulled up to the front of the museum. A man stepped out walked to the camera, and titled it down.
For the rest of the night, the camera filmed the ground while the thieves completed their dark work.
The museum, already suffering from coronavirus containment measures, is understandable not happy about the financial loss brought on by the burglary. The official said that visitors had just started trickling back to the museum with the summer holidays.
“There’s a second wave of COVID-19 now, but people were just getting more comfortable with all the corona precautions we were taking. This is really terrible,” he told CNN.
The Iga-ryu Ninja Museum opened its doors in 1963. Located in Iga, which is the supposed homeland of one of the two historical great ninja clans, it showcases the history of the secretive warriors and assassins.
At the museum, visitors can learn about ninja history, marvel at historic artefacts, and watch martial arts shows. They can even try their hand at throwing shuriken – the iconic star-shaped throwing weapon of the ninja.
Who Were the Real Ninjas?
Ever since their medieval origins as agents of covert warfare, ninjas have become pop culture icons. We all know and love the image of a nimble black-clad warrior, armed to the teeth with concealed weaponry and possessing of strength and abilities that often pass into supernatural territory.
Of course, this depiction of the ninja is about as far from reality as you can get. It’s based more on how ninjas were portrayed in folk tales and theater.
For example, historian Stephen Turnbull suggests that the black ninja outfit actually came from Japanese kabuki theater. At the time, stagehands wore all black outfits on the stage so the audience knew to ignore them.
At some point, a play director had a stroke of genius and decided to have a stealthy ninja character enter the stage wearing the black outfit. Imagine the audience’s surprise when a supposed stagehand suddenly revealed their character as a masterful assassin.
In reality, ninjas probably rarely wore black. It makes sense, really. If your job is to spy and commit sabotage, you really don’t want to wear something that immediately identifies you as a covert operative.
Instead, historians believe that the real ninjas most likely went around disguised as farmers, priests, or merchants. During night operations they may have worn something akin to the pop culture ninja suit, but it would’ve been dark blue instead of black.
Even in the dead of night, black will make you stand out like a living shadow. A dark blue outfit on the other hand will blend more smoothly into the surrounding darkness.
That’s not to say the real ninjas weren’t great warriors. They pretty much must have been, to build a reputation that has lasted through the centuries.