Japanese Student Gets High Marks For Turning In Essay That Was Blank – Or Was It?

  • Go, Ninja, Go, Ninja, Go, Ninja - Go!
Photo by Aisha Askhadova on Unsplash
Photo by Aisha Askhadova on Unsplash



We all know how it feels to want top-notch grades, but lengths would you go to for them? Most wouldn’t go very far, but this student went to extremes with her homemade invisible ink…

Does A Blank Piece Of Paper Really Look Like An Essay?

Eimi Haga is a 19-year-old Japanese student who was asked to write an essay on Ninja history and handed in a “blank” piece of paper. Miss Haga used an ancient ninja technique called “aburidashi,” which she spent hours preparing by soaking and crushing soybeans. The words appeared when her professor heated the paper over his gas stove.

Where Did She Come Up With This? Or Better Yet, Where’d She Learn This?

“It is something I learned through a book when I was little,” Miss Haga told BBC.  She says that she has been interested in Ninjas since watching an animated TV show as a little kid. Ninjas were covert agents and assassins in medieval Japan.

So She BECAME The Ninja

After enrolling at Mie University in Japan, the first-year student took a class in Ninja history, where she was asked to write about the Ninja Museum of Igaryu. “When the professor said in class that he would give a high mark for creativity, I decided that I would make my essay stand out from the others,” Miss Haga said. “I gave a thought for a while, and hit upon the idea of aburidashi.”

The Process For Invisible Ink?

Miss Haga soaked the beans overnight and then crushed them before squeezing them in a cloth. Then she mixed the soybean extract with water, spending two hours to get the concentration right, before writing her essay with a fine brush on “washi” (thin Japanese paper). Once it dried her word became invisible. Just to ensure her professor didn’t put the essay in the bin, she tied a note to it that read “heat the paper.”

The Professor’s Reaction

“I had seen such reports written in code, but never seen one done in aburidashi,” he said.

“To tell the truth, I had a little doubt that the words would come out clearly. But when I actually heated the paper over the gas stove in my house, the words appeared very clearly and I thought ‘Well done!’

I didn’t hesitate to give the report full marks – even though I didn’t read it to the very end because I thought I should leave some part of the paper unheated, in case the media would somehow find this and take a picture.”

Miss Haga Says That The Essay Was More Style Than Substance

“I was confident that the professor would at least recognize my efforts to make a creative essay. So I wasn’t really worried about getting a bad score for my essay, though the content itself was nothing special.”

Just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover – or an essay paper by its apparent lack of ink!