American Is Japan's First Foreign Ninja

Chris O'Neill back-flipped his way to coolest gig ever
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2016 12:44 PM CDT
American Is Japan's First Foreign Ninja
A staff member is seen at a ninja training center in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Junji Kurokawa)

It's yet another first in the odd field of American ninja-dom: A tourism panel in the Japanese prefecture of Aichi has named American Chris O'Neill as the first foreign ninja to find paid work in Japan. The 29-year-old, who lives in Tokyo, was one of 235 people to apply for a spot on a ninja squad to help boost tourism. The panel called for fit candidates who "enjoy being under the spotlight even though he or she is a secretive ninja," per the Japan Times. Six men and one woman from Japan were hired, but officials were so impressed with O'Neill's back flips they created an extra position for him, reports AFP.

"He was really amazing," says tourism rep Satoshi Adachi, adding that 85% of applicants hailed from outside Japan. "He has great acrobatic skill and the ability to speak in front of the public." O'Neill, signed to a one-year contract, "will be Japan's first salaried, full-time ninja paid by a local municipality," and will earn $1,600 a month. His duties will be a little less serious than those of ninjas of yore: They mostly involve impressing tourists with classic ninja skills (including throwing "shuriken," or stars) and posing for photos. First, however, he'll undergo one month of ninja training with his new colleagues. (Two ninja-clad robbers were outclassed by a cashier.)

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