Back To Career News

This Japanese City Is Suffering From a Ninja Shortage

Topics: Career Profiles
ninja shortage
1001nights/Getty Images

Iga, Japan prides itself on being the birthplace of the ninja, but even with salaries as high as $85,000 a year, the city is having trouble hiring ninjas. (OK, fine. Ninja performers.)

Recently, Sally Herships of NPR’s Planet Money visited Iga to speak with Mayor Sakae Okamoto about the plan to use ninja performers to boost tourism and fight depopulation in the small, rural city.

“Right now in Iga, we are working very hard to promote ninja tourism and get the most economic outcome,” Okamoto said. “For example, we hold this ninja festival between late April to around the beginning of May. During this period visitors and also local people come here. Everybody will be dressed like a ninja and walks around and enjoys themselves — but recently I feel that it’s not enough.”

Okamoto’s solution? More ninjas.

Are you a Purple Squirrel/Unicorn? Find out by using our salary survey!

“Japan’s government is funding ninjas.”

Business Insider notes that while Japan’s tourism industry is booming, rural cities like Iga are apparently not drawing travelers. Iga’s annual ninja festival is the city’s main attraction – during it, the population grows from 10,000 to 30,000 people.

But that’s just one day. Iga hopes to build on the festival’s popularity by investing in ninjas. They’ve already built a second ninja museum with financial help from the government.

Yes, really. As Herships said, “Japan’s government is funding ninjas.”

The challenge now is to attract a labor force and skilled ninja performers – no mean feat in a country with an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent and a city that lost 1,000 residents in the last year alone.

Iga is offering prospective ninjas more than just bragging rights, however. Salaries for ninja performers range from $23,000 to $85,000 per year. That’s significantly more than the $8,000 to $17,000 earned by real ninjas, per NPR.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Tell Us What You Think

What’s your dream job? We want to hear from you. Talk to us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.