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10% fewer tourists dressed like ninjas at festival in Mie

Members of a family walk in ninja costumes at the Iga Ueno Ninja Festa in Iga, Mie Prefecture, on April 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

IGA, Mie -- The number of tourists who put on ninja costumes during this year's ninja festival here declined roughly 10 percent from last year to 8,733, apparently due largely to a coinciding event in the prefecture, local authorities announced on May 9.

    Visitors to the annual Iga Ueno Ninja Festa in Iga, Mie Prefecture, can dress themselves up like ninjas at changing spaces and walk around the venue. At this year's festival held from April 1 through May 7, 8,733 people disguised themselves as ninjas, according to preliminary figures released by the Iga Municipal Government.

    While the city declared itself "Ninja City" in February and was recognized as a Japan Heritage site in April along with the Shiga Prefecture city of Koka for being ninja-related areas, these extra values apparently didn't add much to boosting the number of would-be ninja tourists. A representative of the city's tourism strategy division surmises that the popularity of the National Confectionary Exposition in the fellow Mie Prefecture city of Ise, which is running from April 21 through May 14, played a part in nibbling tourists away from the ninja festival.

    Although the number of Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays during the ninja festival totaled 15, one more day than last year, the number of visitors who masqueraded as ninjas totaled 7,977 on those holidays, down 11 percent from last year, or 987 fewer. The festival period was also three days longer than last year, but the number of those who dressed like ninjas dropped 9.7 percent, or 943 fewer than 2016. This year, there were a total of 12 spaces for tourists to change into ninja outfits.

    "Those in the grandparent generation flocked to Ise (for the confectionary exposition), resulting in the drop in the number of children who dressed up as ninjas at our festival," said the city's tourism strategy division representative. "The frequent rainfall forecasts for Saturdays and Sundays in April also discouraged many from joining the festival," the official added.

    The city put the overall number of visitors to the festival at 36,000, based on the number of those who put on ninja costumes. The figure for last year was 40,000.

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