Gaijin Ninja

“Please bring a pair of short leggings next week,” U-san writes. I buy one with Its-san on one of our long gym training days and wear them under my trousers the following Sunday.

Again, I meet U-san in her little car, and we drive off to Iga. On the way, as we pass green hills and forests, she tells me to observe every little thing. To make sure I use the time I have now to learn everything. The order of the weapons backstage. The way everybody moves, and the time they move. One day, Kashira will suddenly tell me to tidy up backstage, and I wont have the slightest inkling what goes where if I don’t open my eyes and learn things now. U-san always has things to tell me. If she isn’t giving me tons of useful advice of how to become a successful apprentice kunoichi, she teaches me new words, and new little details about people in Osaka. In Tokyo everybody is rich and proud of it. In Osaka, people are proud if they can buy good things for little money. In Tokyo, girls will be jealous if their friends are better looking. In Osaka, if I make friends with a really beautiful girl, she says, I’ll just abuse the fact telling the guys I’ve always wanted to go out with, that I know this really beautiful girl, and they’ll all want to come. And the subtle difference between aho and baka, one of them being meant in a serious way, the other in a mocking way, is exactly opposite in Osaka and Tokyo. In Osaka everyone says aho all the time. If you say that in Tokyo, it is quite offensive. Kashira is donburi kanjo. He gives money away easily, likes spending it on friends. His wife is the business person. She does things properly, and if he didn’t have that kind of wife, things would be difficult. I have had that feeling ever since I got the first phone call from her. Kashira was telling me to move in with them next month. She put the brakes on very quickly. “It is a hard job,” she tells me. “Many people quit.”

Then, the emergency text message, telling me not to quit my job, because we will run into lots of visa problems if I do. I assure them I will not quit my job if I am not absolutely sure of how to make a living afterwards. Kashira has done a lot of talking with his wife. “Being a ninja is not easy,” he sends me another text message. “In martial arts dojos, the teachers just want your money. You can buy everything, even your dan grades. Here, it is different. A true warrior has no thoughts, and no desire. I will teach you from the bottom up.” “So desu ne,” I agree with him, the universal agreement. This is not the place to tell him the various stories of my wonderful dojo acquaintances including teachers with firm ideals, and free of greed. Gambarimasu. I assure him.

This time, Kashira wants me to look like a real ninja. That’s why he makes me wear leggings. To be able to get changed in the same room as the men without stripping down to my knickers. The T-Shirt stays on anyway. I get given a bright blue ninja outfit with light blue ninja stars sewn onto the chest, and red borders. There are lots of ribbons to tie, and it is complicated to put on the trousers. First the short kimono, and an obi around it near the hip bones. Then the trousers. When you hold up the front part, the rest of them hangs down. You wrap the long belt around your waist twice and tie it in the back. Kashira is in the tent with me and helps me with my first ninja dressing routine. “Ah, it’s difficult,” he says. “If you’re doing it on somebody else, you don’t know how to hold the strings and where to tie them.” So he changes positions and stands behind me and pretends to be me when he wraps the belt around my waist and ties it together, squeezing my organs into my lungs. “This has to be quite tight, because it will become loose,” he explains as I struggle for air. It does loosen immediately. “You are all muscles,” says Kashira as he ties a bow in the back. “What a waste for you to be a school teacher!” Then, a plastic tongue sewn to the back of the trousers is stuck into the tied belt, and another belt tied in front above the first one, this time like a karate belt. Then its long ends are tied together in the back and hidden away, tucked up somewhere beneath the whole belt arrangement. Finally, the shin parts have to be tied. First, jika-tabi, ninja shoes. The shin parts of the trousers are split in two at the back of the lower legs. In front, two ribbons come out of the middle seam. The two sides are wrapped around the shin tight, inside to the inside of the leg, outside on top, then the ribbons are tied in front, loose ends tucked away just like those of the belt. Finished. Kashira hands me a hachimaki headband with a metal plate and a Naruto symbol on it. I have never read or seen Naruto, the famous ninja comic, and anime, but I know that it is famous and popular not only in Japan.

“This is really expensive, even in Japan.” Says Kashira. “When you go back to Germany, everyone will want to steal it off you, so be careful!” he warns me. “Wow,” he marvels at the result of his efforts. “This really suits you!” I give him a smile, and we move on to the stage, which is a different experience today, looking like a ninja. “Wow,” people say when they pay to get into the show. “A gaijin!” or “Wow, a kunoichi!” Or “Wow, a gaijin ninja!” And many of them want to take pictures with me. “Anna!” U-san shouts from the audience seats as I am posing for a picture with a group of teenage boys, “Karate-kamae!”And I go into a back stance with a low block in front and a high block in the back. “Ho!” she and Kashira exclaim, impressed, and the camera flashes. I feel unworthy of so much attention. I don’t even know how to throw the ninja stars myself, but am given the task to I instruct people in this skill after every single show.

But it is fun. Kashira tells me he wants me to talk to people, get sued to dealing with visitors. And this part, I have less trouble with than the complicated cleaning techniques I was taught on my first day. As I brush the dust out of all the eyes watching me from the spectator seats during the break, another eye catches me, and Kashira says: “You’ve become quite good at cleaning.” I bow and smile at the wooden eyes in front of me. The day passes quickly as I try to absorb the ticket selling routines. I assemble the thick, wooden tickets in the basket once the visitors are all seated. And watch the ninjas collect money in their black leather bags, saying Irasshaimase and Konnichiha degozaru. And dozo. I thank everybody who comes in and guide them inside with me dozo, this way please gestures. Smile and bow. Interpret during the show for an Indian Canadian young couple enthusiastic about ninjas. And pose for pictures. Next time, says Kashira, we will practise posing for pictures. In no time, the last show is over, and we scatter into the tent, where I empty the hot water dispenser and de-dust the foot mats in front of the door.

This time, I have brought some Ferrero Kuesschen chocolates from Germany, as I had half a box left and know Kashira loves sweets. He tells me next time we will take some pictures and do some training. I thank him for his guidance and ask for more, much more of it in the future. And U-san and I take her little Corsa back to Osaka, back to the world of bright lights and long working days. For another week.

1 件のコメント:

Kunoichi Terminator さんのコメント...

Is it the powerful gesture to fight against female ninja?