Our friends in Japan need your help

Marshalltonians, at home and abroad, your assistance is required!

One of Marshalltown’s two sister cities is in the depths of a crisis the likes of which have never before been seen. The good people of Minami-Alps, in the Yamanashi Prefecture of Japan, are facing an existential crisis of identity that, unfortunately, is not contained solely to Minami-Alps’ 264.14 square kilometres of city space.

Minami-Alps, and the whole of the nation of Japan, is facing a dire shortage of ninjas!

We, as sister city citizens, cannot let this stand.

A brief history: In yesteryear Japan ninjas were stealth warriors who carried out espionage and assassinations; today the majority of ninjas are still trained in multiple forms of unarmed combat and stealth infiltration … skills that are incredibly useful in their new role as tourist attractions.

According to the Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, the lull in applications from prospective ninjas has dropped off precipitously, while the increase in foreign tourism demands more and more ninjas be available to entertain people waiting in line for their table at the Hard Rock Cafe: Tokyo.

So what can we do to help out our ninja-bereft sister citizens in Japan?

Simple: Sign up.

Takatsugu Aoki, Ninja Manager at Sankosha Co (the company that manages the ninjas) said in their latest ninja-recruitment drive only 22 applicants applied, and only five of those were from outside Japan.

For a little ninja-context, the recruitment drive for new ninjas in 2016 yielded 235 applicants; roughly 200 of those potential ninjas came from outside of Japan.

The Japanese are in desperate need of new ninjas and the international community is letting them down! We have to do better.

“Ok,” I’m sure you’re all thinking, while trying to determine which Ninja Turtle you would be, “I like ninjas, but how can I acquire the mad-skills necessary to become a tourist ninja?”

1: It’s Michelangelo. The world is filled with Leonardos and Raphaels, but everybody thinks they’re a Mikey.

2: Skills? This is America! We’ve got skills for sale!

Becoming an American Ninja is easy and available to everyone with a few dollars, a little bit of time, and a VHS player; you’ll be entertaining tourists and commenting on the politics of the Sengoku Period in the Kobe Airport in no time!

Step 1: Ninja gear

First and foremost is getting your hands on all that sweet, sweet ninja gear. Your first instinct may be to go to a mall or some big box store. Huge mistake. You’re going to want to scour the swap meets, pawn shops, and gun shows to find only the finest ninja gear.

The first thing you’ll see is a big table full of knives. I don’t care where you started your search, but a big table full of knives is always the first thing you see when you’re out looking for ninja-stuff.

Choose a knife. Does it look like it could kill a dragon? Is it incredibly heavy and not at all sharp? Is the blade all “wavy” like in the movies? Does the handle contain the image of a wizard?

If the answer to all of the above is “yes” then congratulations! By purchasing this preposterously expensive knife you’re now 80 percent ninja-certified. You may legally refer to yourself as a ninja in casual conversation.

Step 2: The attire

Black. More black than you thought a person could own. All black, all the time.

And you’re going to want a mask. The best way to accomplish the proper ninja-look is to get a piece of black cloth at least seven feet long. Now cut out two eye-holes anywhere on the cloth. Line up the eye-holes with your own eyes, then tuck the remaining feet of fabric into your ninja-shirt. The mask will keep you concealed and the leftover mask fabric can help keep you warm on those long, cold, ninja nights waiting for the tour bus to drop off the Florida group when they get back from Mt. Fuji.

You have achieved 90 percent ninja-certification! You are now allowed to don your ninja-attire and safely escape long meetings at work and uncomfortable family discussions by whisper-yelling “NINJA!!!” and then running.

Step 3: Learning the moves

This is where you’re going to need to get your hands on a VHS player. If you cannot find one, or are currently having trouble remembering what a VHS player is, consult your parents, grandparents, or your representative in Congress.

With VHS player in hand you’ll need to track down a copy of the 1985 cinema classic “American Ninja” starring Michael Dudikoff and Steve James. “American Ninja” tells the tale of Joe Armstrong, an American living in the Philippines, who is forced to join the Army to avoid prison. Also, he is a ninja. Nobody believes Joe is a ninja, but after repeated ninja-attacks by other, evil, ninjas, Joe uses his ninjutsu to out-ninja the bad ninjas, thereby saving the girl and informing a lot of US Army servicemen about the existence of ninjas.

Did you watch it? All 95 minutes of it? Then congratulations! You’re 100 percent ninja-certified. You are now qualified to fly to Japan and join the ranks of the tourist ninjas. You may also walk without making a sound, despite what others in the room may tell you, as well as communicate with animals and jump from rooftop to rooftop without fear of catastrophic ankle failure.

Our sister citizens in Minami-Alps, need not worry; soon the ninja-coffers of their great city and country will be filled to the brim with new American ninjas, each more ninja-y than the last.

You’re welcome.

Note: As of press time there has been no mention of a ninja shortage effecting Marshalltown’s other sister city, Budyonnovsk, in Stavropol Krai, Russia. We assume their ninja-quota is still sitting comfortably at “Ninjas? Seriously?”

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Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or wburns@timesrepublican.com.