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John Lindsey
18th October 2003, 15:44
http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/waiwai/0310/1018ninja.html

Some of the practitioners of Japan's darkest traditional arts have just battled it out to determine the country's champion ninja, according to Shukan Shincho (10/23).
Battling it out in such events as Walking on Water, Moat Wall Climbing, Moat Wall Diving, Water Spider River Crossings and Star Throwing, combatants took part in the All Japan Ninja Championships.

The Ninja Games took place in Koga, a sleepy backwater in Shiga Prefecture that lays claim to being one of the homes of ninjutsu, or "stealth arts," a martial arts technique that has made Japan famous across the globe.

Koga, which sells itself as a tourist destination through its centuries old connection to Koga-style ninja, this year welcomed 84 contestants for its 20th annual ninja contest, Shukan Shincho notes.

Anybody was welcome to enter the competition provided they were of at least high school age and provided they paid their 3,000 yen application fee. All contestants had to wear ninja outfits while competing.

Here's a brief explanation given by the competition's website of what each of the contests in the Ninja championships involved:

Shuriken Throwing

Each competitor is given five throws of a steel star with pointed ends. They throw stars from a 10-meter distance at targets like those used at gun shooting ranges. The target is divided into sections, each of which is assigned a point score. Points can only be scored if the throwing star, or shuriken, sticks into the target. The player with the most points wins.

Moat Wall Climbing

Each contestant is given five attempts to scale a moat wall.

Castle Wall Climbing

A team race where four people conduct a relay race climbing to the top of a wall built in the style of a feudal Japanese castle. Each competitor can make just one attempt at climbing the wall. If any member of a team fails, the entire team is disqualified.

Water Walking Relay

A time trial race where two competitors race to cross a body of water while running along planks lying just beneath the surface. Competitors fight out a preliminary round, with those having the best times progressing through to a final.

Water Spider River Crossings

Another four-member team relay race, this time requiring competitors to cross a river using only two circular floats to place each leg on, and a barge pole to provide thrust.

The tournament's overall winner could look forward to a bundle of prizes, including an overseas trip.

But, as Shukan Shincho notes, the crowd of revelers watching the sports meet were more lively than most of the competitors.

Meik Skoss
18th October 2003, 16:44
Of course, if they were REAL shinobimono, you wouldn't be able to see 'em, right?

John Lindsey
18th October 2003, 18:41
A real ninja would steal the trophy the night before...