Legend has it that ninjas date back to 6th century Japan, when poor farmers had to travel as mercenaries to make a living. The most prominent schools – Iga and Koka – were located in the mountainous region near the ancient capital, Kyoto.
To escape ongoing civil wars, many samurai and aristocrats passed through these mountains only to be ambushed by Iga and Koka ninjas, who stole their belongings. Experts in guerrilla warfare, their tactics included surprise attacks, traps, and arson. Unlike samurai, ninjas were warriors without title or rank of nobility.
In the Sengoku Period (1467–1615), powerful samurai masters hired ninjas to collect information on their opponents and assassinate their enemies. While ninjas were deemed indispensable during wartime, they were not well-received by broader society because of their methods. That’s why ninjas remained concealed throughout Japanese history and never took center stage. (For more information about ninjas, please visit our article “What is a Ninja?”)
Now, these shadow warriors openly run a café in Tokyo.
The concept behind the Ninja Café & Bar in Asakusa, Tokyo is for guests to “become a ninja,” donning authentic attire and training as apprentices. Costumes are available in a variety of sizes – from a 2-year-old toddler to a man’s large. Working under a ninja master, trainees will learn how to greet their masters, throw shurikens, use a blowgun, perform a quick sword-drawing technique, and purify their mind through the ritualistic tea ceremony. As a side note, the cruciform shurikens used at the café are a modern creation and were not used by the real ninjas.
The café’s menu is packed with ninja taste. The “ninja curry” comes with shuriken-shaped rice and Japanese dried-curry dusted with black charcoal powder. A ninja server sets fire to “ninjutsu pudding” as the dish is served.
This café is a must for those looking for ninja-style entertainment.