The traditional ways of the ninja have all but died out in today’s modern age. Jinishi Kawakami, the 63-year-old 21st head of the Ban Clan, is the last in a long line of these silent assassins. He represents the approximately 500 years of history of the clan, and possesses skills that would leave most awestruck.
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As reported by the Daily Mail, Kawakami has the ability to hear the sound of a needle impacting the floor one room away and can vanish in a puff of smoke. He can also slit a person’s throat with a two-inch “death star” when starting over 20 feet away.
Speaking about his reputation as the last ninja, Kawakami said, “I think I’m called [the last ninja] as there is probably no other person who learned all the skills that were directly handed down from ninja masters over the last five centuries,” continuing, “Ninjas proper no longer exist.”
Kawakami has chosen to let many of this hard-earned skills die with him, as ninjas “just don’t fit with modern day.”
“We can’t try out murder or poisons,” said Kawakami. “Even if we can follow the instructions to make a poison, we can’t try it out.”
Also an engineer, Kawakami has studied Ninjutsu since age six, originally training under Buddhist master Masazo Ishida.
His training was grueling as he worked to hone his hearing abilities by practicing identifying the sound of a needle dropping in the next room, climbing walls, jumping from heights, and mixing chemicals to create smoke or explosions. He also learned to withstand extreme temperatures and to go for days without food or water, and ultimately inherited his master’s title at age 19.
“The training was tough and painful,” Kawakami asserted. “It wasn’t fun, but I didn’t think much why I was doing it. Training was made to be a part of my life.”
Kawakami admits that surprise is a ninja’s greatest ally, and not brute strength, as well as the ability to remain out of sight. Misdirection is also valuable. Kawakami stated, “If you throw a toothpick, people will look that way, giving you the chance to flee.” We went on to say, “We also have a saying that it is possible to escape death by perching on your enemy’s eyelashes; it means you are so close that he cannot see you.”
When Kawakami decided not to take an apprentice, he became the last of his Ban Clan line of ninjas. Now, Kawakami oversees the Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum and works as a researcher devoted to the history of ninjas.