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After It Was Reported That a Small Town in Japan Needed More Ninjas, Hundreds Around the World Applied--Turns Out It Wasn't True
Ninjas from Iga (L and 2nd R) pose with female ninjas from Tokyo's Musashi ninja clan (2nd L and R) during the Iga-Ueno Ninja Festival at the Ueno park in Iga city on December 8, 2013. Iga city in Mie prefecture, about 350-kilometre west of Tokyo, a birthplace of Iga-style ninjas, held the two-day-long festival to attract visitors to the city. AFP PHOTO / TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA (Photo credit should read TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

Like many small cities in Japan, the city of Iga, in Mie Prefecture, is facing a serious depopulation problem. The city of 95,000 is shedding about 1,000 residents annually. Young people from Iga, like young people across the planet, are forsaking rural life in favor of city life.

In order to help combat this trend, Iga Mayor Sakae Okamoto is looking to Iga’s past. And what sets it apart from any number of cities in similar circumstances is that Iga’s history is awesome. Iga claims to be the birthplace of the ninja. It’s already home to one ninja museum, and the city is making moves to underscore its history. But a recent effort to promote its revitalization plan left Okamoto scrambling toset the record straight on some fake news.

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