Some years ago, I took Japanese lessons and had progressed to a level that was way beyond my actual competence. For one of the lessons, we needed to draft and give a presentation.
We had 1 week to prepare and could choose any topics we fancy. The popular ones dwelt on heavy-duty themes like life (jinsei), and love (aijou). It was rather trying for a straight-from-work-3-hour-session week night class. I wanted to do something light-hearted for a change.
The only thing that came to mind was Ninjas. I was still loving Naruto then, so I thought that I could maybe, at least, finally, put to use those inane hours I spent watching the anime. (I believe Naruto is one of the most-watched anime outside of Japan).
Here’s the piece I drafted during those somewhat-wretched days. The original was quite blotchy (since it was an English-to-Japanese translation). But the version below has been edited, sanitised.
I present to you, my (ex)masterpiece.
How to become a Ninja
What is a Ninja?
The Brits have their 007.
And Japan has her Ninja.
Like 007, the Ninja was an intelligence agent (not an assassin although sometimes, the task called for some killing); he rose to prominence during the late Kamakura/early Edo era, and was most often found working for a powerful Daimyo (feudal lord).
However, the similarities ended there.
Unlike 007, the Ninja had no need for cars. He was nimble of feet and could traverse long distances swiftly. He didn’t use guns but his shurikens were no less deadly. And of course, he was always in the shadows (never showing his face).
So, how does one become a bona fide ninja?
The first step: severe all ties.
That’s right. abandon your current life, forget all your relationships, put normalcy out of your mind.
Having loved ones hanging around, put you and them at risk.
Once you have so-determined, apply for a study visa from the japan embassy. Obviously, you should avoid putting down ‘wish to become a Ninja’ as the purpose. After all, Ninjitsu (Ninja skills) is a classified technique.
In Japan, enroll yourself immediately in a good Ninja academy.
While you are there, submit wholeheartedly to the strict training regime. Expect to begin from the basics. Carry out repetitious routines day after day as instructed without complaint. Work on them with a will to succeed. When you’ve finally mastered them, you may be allowed to learn real Ninjitsu.
More importantly, never pass up any opportunity to toughen your spirits; developing an indomitable spirit is key to mastering the way of the ninja. And, never stop training.
Be aware that the Ninja can’t be a super hero because he is sheathed in darkness. If he succeeds, he gets no pat on the back (publicly, that is). If he fails (and dies), no one will step forward to acknowledge him (or his corpse).
That’s why Ninjas are also known as ‘the ones who endure’.
Deciding to become a Ninja is a monumental decision. Achieving that status is a testament of how well you rise up to suffering.
Unfortunately, my teacher was not amused. Naturally, she suspected I had help with the draft, given my mediocre grasp of Japanese (google translator etc was convenient).
But why did she have to break my heart by declaring that the Ninja was a myth and that there had never been Ninjas in japan. (How can this be true?!).
I was incredulous. I was traumatised.
Then I stopped going to class altogether. I’m not good at enduring after all.
(Obviously, I am not Ninja material).