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Meet the First Person to Ever Receive a Master's Degree in Ninja Studies

You can say he now has ninja-level skills.
For illustrative purposes only. Photo: MichaelWuensch on Pixabay

Many claim to be ninja experts but those who do probably aren't. Well, maybe except for this guy.

Mitsuhashi Genichi, 45, is now the first person ever to receive a master's degree in Ninja Studies after recently graduating from Japan’s Mie University, The Asahi Shimbun reported. He spent two years perfecting feudal martial arts, learning about history, and practicing the ninja lifestyle. And no, that does not mean jumping off buildings covered in black, head to toe.


He studied physical skills, as well as mental skills that are essential to ninja practices — perseverance, strength, and patience. He also learned about agriculture. In the past, ninjas spent their mornings farming and studying ninjutsu, strategy and tactics for guerrilla warfare.

To be accepted into the program, aspiring ninja experts must take an entrance examination, where their knowledge of Japanese history and ninja literature is tested.

Mie University is located near Iga City, a place known as the “ninja area” because ninjas lived there in the 15th century. The university opened its research centre dedicated to Ninja Studies in 2017 and opened a postgraduate course the following year.

This sparked Mitsuhashi’s interest, as the Osaka native started learning martial arts like kung fu and Shorinji Kempo in highschool, The Asahi Shimbun reported. What would have been a casual hobby became his passion at 26 years old, after experiencing life-threatening events while living abroad. He wanted to “protect his own body himself,” Mitsuhashi told The Asahi Shimbun. This was why he decided to take up Ninja Studies. He also has his own dojo, where he teaches his students nintai, or the concept of perseverance, an essential skill in martial arts.

Yamada Yuji, a Japanese history professor at Mie University who heads the Ninja Centre said that he was impressed by Mitsuhashi’s energy and hard work.

“We usually teach about Ninja history and basic ninja skills. However, he (Mitsuhashi) had gone above and beyond, to acquire even more knowledge about ninjas,” he told AFP.

Yamada also said that there are many foreigners who have expressed interest in applying. However, he clarified that the program is for learning about ninjas, not becoming one.

Ninjas are icons of Japanese culture and history. They were specialised assassins and secret agents of medieval Japanese warfare, highly trained and associated with legendary abilities such as walking on water and invisibility. According to history, ninjas slowly started to disappear in the 17th century after the unification of the Tokugawa shogunate. But as Mitsuhashi and many others like him around the world prove, many are still engrossed by the ninja life.

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