A female ninja on a mission to showcase her skills to Tohoku

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IGA, Mie Prefecture – Modern ninja Karin Atsumi serves her stricken hometown, but not like the stealthy undercover agent.

Instead, Atsumi, 21, has publicly stated that she is pursuing her dream of “making the attractiveness of the ninja widely understood in the Tohoku region.”

She made her debut as a “kunoichi,” or female ninja, this summer at the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum in the Ueno-Marunouchi neighborhood here.

Atsumi, from Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, who saw her neighborhood devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in Great Eastern Japan as a fifth-grade primary student, performed on a scene for the first time on July 3.

As a member of the Iga Ashura-style ninja artist group, Atsumi attacked an enemy with a sword hidden in an umbrella as she walked past her opponent, eliciting applause from the audience. She also showed off her skill in hitting a target with a blowgun, designed to resemble a traditional Japanese recorder.

“I was careful not to look down or swing my legs awkwardly,” Atsumi said after the show. “I was able to act as I practiced it. “

When the disaster of March 11, 2011 hit her hometown, Atsumi was taking a course in her school’s Comprehensive Learning Program. She felt the earthquake grow stronger. The ground was shaking as if it was spinning 180 degrees, forcing her to crawl under a desk to get to safety.

Atsumi later learned that a friend who attended another school was swept away by the tsunami along with the student’s mother. The friend and relative were found dead.

As her educator mother had to stay at her workplace to respond to the emergency, Atsumi was sent to the mother’s family home. Atsumi then evacuated to higher ground with her grandmother.

After spending a night at a nearby daycare on a snowy day, she lived with grandmother for a month.

“The first night was cold and painful,” Atsumi recalls. “It was horrible that my mom got thinner every time I saw her. Going through all of these hardships, I believe I can take it all in hard times.”

Atsumi finished her course at a vocational school last spring and joined the ninja troop.

She has been fascinated by the secret agent since her childhood and is enchanted by the physical movements and refined techniques of ninjas that people can never imitate.

Atsumi named Hikoshiro Sada, a legendary ninja who is said to have fought the troops of famous warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) during the Sengoku (Warring States) period (1467-1568), as particularly impressive.

Since no friends around her were interested in the ninja, Atsumi wanted “the growing popularity of the ninja to inspire more people to take an interest in them.” Subsequently, she had a growing desire to “learn and spread ninja culture”.

Seeing Ashura’s recruiting poster, Atsumi applied for the opportunity last year. According to Hanzo Ukita, 61, leader of the performer group, it was not clear at the time when his show could resume amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“I told her (Atsumi) to find a job in Miyagi Prefecture first and come back after clients return, but she replied that she wanted to work with us as soon as possible,” Ukita said. “His determination is admirable.

While living with other members in the troop dormitory, Atsumi honed her skills in throwing “shuriken” stars and wielding a sword so skillfully that she can now wield the twin-bladed ninja tool “kunai. “at blinding speed.

While it is believed that it takes three years to raise a ninja, Atsumi, who has been committed to playing soccer from elementary school, said she is confident about her physical abilities.

Atsumi’s current dream is to start her own business to organize ninja shows in Tohoku after completing her training with Ashura.

To achieve this goal, she devotes herself to studying business management and sales promotion, believing that all of these efforts are part of the practice of being an excellent kunoichi.

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