I’ve a friend who, whenever some difficult task is done, says it’s been “ninja-ed”. Our belief in the magical powers of the silent warrior is where John Man begins his presentation. After debunking myths from their ability to walk on water to their black costumes (dark blue was the colour for the discerning ninja), it is time for the facts. He argues that the mercenary spies reflected the Iga and Koga areas that they came from, in particular the Shugendo religion, which involved periods of mountain testing where the body was pushed to its limits. Man ends by linking Middle Ages ninjas with Japanese espionage in World War 2, suggesting that Hiroo Onoda, who stopped fighting in 1974, was “the last ninja”.
Peppers Theatre, 27 Aug, 4.00pm.