While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would surely disagree, the masked fighters on a half-shell are an exception to some very upsetting news: It is probably impossible to make a living as a professional ninja nowadays. That shattering you hear is the sound of innumerable broken hearts formerly set on a life of ninjaness.
American Public Media’s Marketplace checked out the few remaining modern ninja keeping the profession alive in Japan today. Back in the 15th century the career was a viable one, as men were hired by powerful people to spy and kill.
With no feudal lords left to hire a budding young ninja with aspirations for the top, there are now only a few grand masters left. Marketplace spoke to one of these dark-clothed men, the 21st head of his family. His clan has been linked to the ninja tradition, along with 53 other families, so let’s just say he knows his stuff.
Even he can’t just be a ninja however, as he trained as an engineer and worked a regular job for years.
“You cannot make a living being a ninja!” he says. “From the very beginning, ninja had day jobs. There are many theories about what they were but some ninja were believed to have been farmers who waited for an order. Others were peddlers who used their day jobs to spy.”
So while the bad news is perhaps that the job market for ninjas isn’t thriving, it might never have been a steady income anyway. Always look on the bright side, and we won’t judge you for practicing your best moves in your best dark pajamas.