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Spy school: Famous ninja city in Mie Pref. to open research center

A person dressed as a ninja is seen posing in front of Iga Ueno Castle in Iga, Mie Prefecture, in this photo provided by the Iga Municipal Government.

IGA, Mie -- Mie University is looking to boost academic inquiry into ninjas, those famous black-clad spies of premodern Japan, with a new international ninja research center set to open here on July 1.

The day will also feature a lecture on the "formation of the ninja legend during the Tensho rebellion" in the late 16th century -- Japan's "warring states period" -- and a symposium on "the future of ninjas." The new center will open at a Mie University site at Haitopia Iga, a commercial, office and public service complex in the city's downtown.

The university revealed plans in February this year to open the center in fiscal 2017, stating, "We will systematize the study of ninjas as an academic discipline." The center already has office space at the Haitopia complex, where experts give public lectures on ninjas and the martial art of ninjitsu, among other topics.

Mie University has invited University of London Japan Research Center academic Richard Turnbull to give the July 1 keynote lecture. The symposium panel will consist of Iga Mayor Sakae Okamoto, Iga-Ueno Tourist Association Chairman Koichi Hirosawa, and Mie University professor Yuji Yamada. Chairing proceedings will be Mie University Iga satellite campus head Yasumitsu Onishi, who is also a university executive vice president.

The symposium is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. on July 1. Admission is free, though attendance will be limited to 150 guests, with tickets granted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The deadline to apply for a seat is June 21. For inquiries, please call the Mie University Faculty of Humanities, Law and Economics at 059-231-6991 (in Japanese).

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