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East Japan city calls on ninja past to promote social distancing amid pandemic

An Odawara Municipal Government poster featuring ninjas giving advice on how to avoid novel coronavirus transmission while shopping.
An Odawara Municipal Government illustration of a ninja's footprint designed to be stuck on shop floors to promote social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

ODAWARA, Kanagawa -- This city south of Tokyo is embracing its ninja past to help promote public understanding of the "new lifestyle" imposed by the novel coronavirus.

The Odawara Municipal Government has created a set of comic illustrations using ninjas from the Fuma ninja clan, which served the Hojo lords of the city during Japan's Sengoku (warring states) period.

The illustrations come in two versions. One features adorable ninjas encouraging people to follow proper infection protocol while out shopping, such as, "Bag your own purchases," and, "Keep away from others about the distance that a throwing star couldn't hit you." The other is a set of ninja footprints accompanied with the phrase, "Please wait here" that can be stuck to a shop floor to encourage social distancing.

"When our new way of life is expressed with words first, it can be hard for people to understand exactly what they're supposed to do. So we used ninjas to explain things in an easily comprehensible way," Odawara's tourism section stated. "We hope (the illustrations) will both help stop infections and boost tourism."

The illustrations can be downloaded from the tourism section's website.

(Japanese original by Akihiro Watanabe, Hiratsuka Local Bureau)

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