Japan university awards first-ever ninja studies degree

Genichi Mitsuhashi, above, became the first student ever to graduate from a Japanese university with a master’s degree in ninja studies. (Courtesy of Genichi Mitsuhashi/AFP)
Updated 26 June 2020

Japan university awards first-ever ninja studies degree

  • Mie University set up the world’s first research center devoted to the ninja in 2017

TOKYO: Japan has produced its first ninja studies graduate after Genichi Mitsuhashi spent two years honing his martial arts skills and absorbing the finer traditions of the feudal martial arts agents.
The 45-year-old completed the master’s course at Mie University in central Japan, the region considered the home of the ninja.
In addition to researching historical documents, Mitsuhashi said he took the practical aspect of being a ninja to heart.
“I read that ninjas worked as farmers in the morning and trained in martial arts in the afternoon,” he said.
So Mitsuhashi grew vegetables and worked on his martial arts techniques, in addition to copious ninja study in the classroom.
“With this combination, I thought I could learn about the real ninja,” he said.
Better known as black-clad assassins famous for secrecy and stealth, ninjas also had “comprehensive survival skills,” he added.
Mitsuhashi, who has also learned kung fu and a Japanese martial art known as Shorinji Kempo, teaches ninja skills at his own dojo and runs a local inn while pursuing his PhD.
The Mie University set up the world’s first research center devoted to the ninja in 2017 and opened a graduate course a year later.
It is located in Iga — 350 kilometers southwest of Tokyo — a mountain-shrouded city once home to many ninjas.
Yuji Yamada, a professor of Japanese history at the university in charge of the ninja center, was surprised at Mitsuhashi’s devotion to the task.
“We provide historical classes and courses on ninja skills. But I didn’t expect him to engage to this extent” like a real living ninja, Yamada said.
To enroll, students have to take an exam on Japanese history and a reading test on historical ninja documents.
“About three students enroll every year. I think there’s demand,” the professor said.
“We get many inquiries from overseas but I have to say one thing: This is a course to learn about the ninja, not to become one.”


American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

Updated 26 September 2020

American sued in Thailand over negative Tripadviser review

  • ‘We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future’

BANGKOK: An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative TripAdviser review, authorities said Saturday, and could face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and expats heading to near-empty resorts — including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
But a recent visit to the Sea View Resort on the island landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he wrote unflattering online reviews about his holiday.
“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadviser website,” Col. Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police said.
He said Barnes was accused of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel,” and of quarrelling with staff over not paying a corkage fee for alcohol brought to the hotel.
Barnes, who works in Thailand, was arrested by immigration police and returned to Koh Chang where he was briefly detained and then freed on bail.
According to the Tripadviser review Barnes posted in July, he encountered “unfriendly staff” who “act like they don’t want anyone here.”
The Sea View Resort said legal action was only taken because Barnes had penned multiple reviews on different sites over the past few weeks.
At least one was posted in June on Tripadviser accusing the hotel of “modern day slavery” — which the site removed after a week for violating its guidelines.
“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” the hotel said, adding that staff had attempted to contact Barnes before filing the complaint.
Barnes did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Thailand’s notorious anti-defamation laws have long drawn scrutiny from human rights and press freedom groups, who say powerful players use it as a weapon to stifle free expression.
The maximum sentence is two years in prison, along with a 200,000 baht ($6,300) fine.
Earlier this year, a Thai journalist was sentenced to two years in prison for posting a tweet referencing a dispute over working conditions at a chicken farm owned by the Thammakaset company.