The ancient art of ninjutsu may die with Jinichi Kawakami, who is known as Japan’s “last ninja.”
“I think I’m called (the last ninja) as there is probably no other person who learned all the skills that were directly” handed down from ninja masters over the last five centuries, Kawakami told the AFP.
The 63-year-old is the 21st head of the Ban family, one of 53 families that made up the renowned Koka ninja clan. They used their ninja techniques to wage guerrilla warfare against the shogun, who seized Koka castle in the 15th century. Kawakami will continue to teach the history of ninjutsu part-time at Mie University but will not pass on his title to a disciple.
“In the age of civil wars or during the Edo period, ninjas’ abilities to spy and kill, or mix medicine may have been useful,” he explained to the BBC. “But we now have guns, the internet and much better medicines, so the art of ninjutsu has no place in the modern age.”
This could just be an elaborate subterfuge to make us think that ninja only exist in the movies that they populate.
Kawakami imparts us with this bit of ninja wisdom: “We also have a saying that it is possible to escape death by perching on your enemy’s eyelashes; it means you are so close that he cannot see you.”