IGA, Mie -- Local buses here have received a striking new look, wrapped in a design of crammed in ninjas drawn in black.
Iga styles itself as "Ninja City," the birthplace of Japan's ninja. To select the new bus design the local government held a competition. A design by artist Saki Oe, 26, an illustrator who has loved ninjas since watching them in TV anime as a child, was selected as the winner. After finding out about the competition online, Oe adapted her design for the bus from a packed ninja motif she made in her student days at Kyoto Seika University.
At a ceremony in front of Uenoshi Station, also known as "Ninja City Station," Oe cut the ribbon to mark the ninja bus's inaugural departure. She commented before boarding that she was very happy to see her design on the bus for the first time.
Dressed as a ninja to celebrate the event, Iga Mayor Sakae Okamoto praised the bus's new look. "We're very grateful to her for the fantastic design she's created. I want this bus to become a cherished symbol of our city."
The service, which includes a green bus, costs 200 yen a ride. IC card payment is accepted on the route and customers can also track the buses' current location using a smartphone app.
(Japanese original by Yasuhiro Onishi, Iga Resident Bureau)