“Look,” says Ishizuka and points to a poster by the side of the stage, in between photographs showing the ninjas wearing various pieces of ninja merchandise and posing with weapons. “They’re looking for ninjas!”
Indeed, the poster says “We are recruiting healthy men and women up to 25 years of age. If interested, ask a ninja.” What a bizarre idea. And what a great one.
For a laugh, I walk onto the stage, where Tomonosuke, the umbrella man is tidying away bits of cut bamboo and straw. “Excuse me,” I ask, “You are recruiting new ninjas?” “O, you’ll have to talk to the boss about it. Just a second.” He disappears backstage briefly and comes back out together with the boss, his proud father.
“Excuse me,” I say to the ninja boss, and bow, putting on my most presentable Japanese manners and respect language. “I read over there that you are recruiting new ninjas.” “Ah. Yes.” He says. “I’m already 26, but I would be very interested in the kind of work you are offering.” “Hm,” he says, and turns to Ishizuka, who is standing next to me. “She knows Japanese, doesn’t she? She understands most of the things I’m talking about.” “She does, “ says Ishizuka. “Hm,” he looks at me again. “Well. And you speak English, too?” “Yes, Im teaching English conversation at the moment but my plan for Golden Week was to find a new job.” “Hm,” says the ninja master. “Where do you live?” “I live in
I bow and feel a pebble of sadness cast into my immediate surroundings, throwing up concentric circles like a heaving chest while the pebble gets stuck somewhere. “I will give you my card,” says the ninja and disappears backstage. “The audition is easy. We will look at how flexible you are. That’s all. The rest depends on nothing but the effort you put in. That’s everybody’s life here. Everybody’s salary depends on how much effort they put in. Think about it carefully. This is based on effort.”
I thank him and give him a long bow, and ask for his continued benevolence and guidance in the future. When I look up again, he has disappeared, and I wonder whether this was just a dream. On the other hand, sudden disappearance speaks for the presence of a ninja. This whole new idea is spinning round and round in my head like Tomonosuke's 500 Yen coin, but I don't know how to catch it, where to put it, and what to make of it. Keep rolling.