By Valerie Taylor  |  31 March 2018   

Japan is an astounding country, rich with a culture that has spanned hundreds of centuries. The Japanese have been training both mind and body to complete impossible feats since before karate was a worldwide phenomenon.

Nothing has been more enthralling than the idea of shinobi, or ninja, the masters of espionage and deception. While ninjutsu was a forgotten art for many years, it’s recently been making waves throughout Japan. More and more ninjas have begun to reach out to the general population.

A Brief History of Shinobi

Ninjas have been poorly represented in pop culture. The art of the ninja can most accurately be described as the art of running away. Many of the tools that ninjas utilize, such as shuriken, staves, swords, and kunai knives are used defensively. The ninja is trained to always look for weak points in their opponent and exploit them.

For example, if a ninja was at a restaurant and was caught spying on a group of soldiers, he would take whatever utensil he had—even the scorching hot ramen broth—and use it as a distraction. If the ninja was being carried, he would use shuriken to further debilitate the attacks. Lastly, if it came to a situation where blades were crossed, the ninja would use intense focus to power through his opponents and escape. 

The Influence of Ninjutsu in Modern Times

The ninja might have been forgotten for a short duration, but the ninja spirit, just like that of the samurai, has never truly vanished. In fact, there are living ninjas working in Japan right this instant—though it probably is’t how you’d imagine.

Ninjas are permeate social media, performing arts, tourism, and even food. Yes, in Japan, ninjas pop up in the most unlikely of places. Next time you find yourself in Japan training, you need to check out a ninja-themed restaurant.

Ninja Akasaka

Even finding the entrance to Ninja Akasaka is tricky. Cloaked just like its namesake, the door doesn’t stand out in the nighttime and feels extremely secretive. Once you find the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a guide dressed in traditional ninja attire, who will lead you towards ‘the Village.’ As you move towards the Village, you go through a number of sliding doors and winding stairwells—reminiscent of ninja houses from the old times. 

For tall people, this “Labyrinth” section can become quite the workout, since the space is narrow and the ceiling is low. 

In fact, the interior of Ninja Asakusa is so historically accurate in its construction, that the restaurant has become the setting for many international movies that take place in Edo-period Japan. Also, this famous location has been visited by many stars, including Steven Spielberg and Lady Gaga. 

Once you reach your table, the ninja guide disappears. All the food at the restaurant is ninja-themed, such as shredded vegetables salad, black fried chicken, shuriken blade grissini with foie gras dip, shuriken-shaped tofu and crackers and so on. You might be wondering, “How is any of this ninja-themed?”

Ninja Akasaka Food

Aside from the shapes of shuriken and ninja swords, the food is nutritionally balanced. Ninjas of the past used to make their own herbal supplements, lived generally off the land, and were always thinking in terms of nutritional density when they ate. They might not have had foie gras, though. 

How to Find the Secret Entrance 

The restaurant is relatively close to Akasaka-Mitsuke Station on either the Tokyo Metro Ginza or Marunouchi line. Take the Sotobori-dori exit then walk slightly north. The entrance is on the bottom floor of the Akasaka Tokyu Plaza building. The complete address is Akasaka Tokyu Plaza 1F, 2-14-3 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Now that you know the address, good luck finding the entrance! Hint: It’s black and has a “ninja” sign.

Ponder This

Though there are a number of hands-on ninja experiences to try in Japan, getting a true “taste” of ninjutsu starts with incredible food and entertainment. In other words, if you ever wanted to try your hand at being a ninja, there is nothing stopping you. Okay, well, maybe the correct way to use chopsticks—but don’t let that stop you from tasting Japan’s ninja-themed goodness.

Have you visited Ninja Asakusa? What was your experience? Are you holding a secret ninja spot close to your vest why not share?

Loved this? Spread the word

About the author

Valerie is a wandering nomad currently in Japan and works as a professional fitness trainer, yoga instructor, dancer, freelance writer, and part-time ninja. She also is a student at a Japanese university, studying movement and pedagogy. Since childhood, Valerie has practiced various types of martial arts, including karate and kendo, and has used these movements in choreography and movement therapy.

Related Articles You Might Like to Read:

Americas, Where We're Headed

Chris Rini’s Art Classes up Cage-Fighting

Jordan Newmark  |  13 May 2021   Imagine the sport of Mixed Martial Arts is a house.The foundation is the rules, the walls and floors are the fighters, and the roof [...]

Stuff We're Eyeing

Athletic Apparel With a Purpose – Feed Me Fight Me

By Jordan Newmark  | 6 March 2021   Feed Me Fight Me is all about the Mission. For John Watkins and Brian Eayrs, who became friends while serving in the US Marine [...]

Oceania, Where We're Headed

A Title Bout Looms, but Mental Health Remains Megan Anderson’s Biggest Fight

By Jordy McElroy  |  31 October 2020 Megan Anderson fears no woman. Even with a scheduled December bout against Amanda Nunes—a two-division UFC champion that napalms faces for a living—a [...]

Africa, Where We're Headed

Johannesburg is the City of Hope, Oppression and Home to Living Legend Sifu Edward Jardine

By Sonia Ahmed  |  2 August 2020 Johannesburg is the New York of South Africa because of its multinational corporations, magnificent skyscrapers, and the Manhattan twin, Maboneng. The famous City [...]

What We're Watching

Ronin has Class and Clout in Equal Measure

By Eireann Mannino  |  20 March 2021 With a cast like Robert DeNiro (Sam), Stellan Skarsgård (Gregor), Sean Bean (Spence), Jean Reno (Vincent), and Natascha McElhone (Deirdre) to its credit [...]

Middle East, Where We're Headed

Behold the Unspoiled Beauty of Jeddah and the Budding MMA Scene at the Arena

By Sonia Ahmed  |  18 August 2020   The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been making news for opening its borders for recreational tourism. Until 2018, it issued visas only for [...]

Europe, Where We're Headed

Savate – ‘The Unconventional Fighting Art of the French’

By Lewis Budden  | 19 December 2020   In the vast world of MMA, if you were to name a style that uses both a combination of strikes and kicks you [...]

What We're Reading

What we're reading is made up of books, articles and other reading materials across all fighting disciplines, philosophical perspectives, strategies, ...

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}