Japan's Iga City, the birthplace of ninja, is running out of ninja in 2018.

Update: Iga city officials now deny the reported salary and the fact that they are currently recruiting ninja. The following video by The Japan Times explains some of the dispute.

Iga City, located in Japan's Mie prefecture, is believed to be the birthplace of ninja and home of the Iga school of ninjutsu. It also hosts Japan's most famous ninja museum, where visitors can not only watch skilled ninja performers, but undergo training to pick up the skills themselves.

Unfortunately, the city's claim to fame is at risk as Iga is facing a shortage of skilled ninja performers for their annual ninja festival as the result of a nationwide depopulation problem, according to a recent episode of "Planet Money" on NPR. In the episode, Sally Herships travels to Iga City and finds out that the ninja shortage is due to local youth feeling reluctant to live in the countryside, putting the city's famed annual ninja festival at risk.

(c) Grape Japan

Iga's mayor, Sakae Okamoto tells Herships that the city has relied on the appeal of ninja heritage to attract tourism:

"Right now in Iga, we are working very hard to promote ninja tourism and get the most economic outcome."

"For example, we hold this ninja festival between late April to around the beginning of May."

"During this period visitors and also local people come here. Everybody will be dressed like a ninja and walks around and enjoys themselves — but recently I feel that it’s not enough."

While Iga attracts typically attracts 30,000 tourists to its annual Ninja Festival, the city lost 1,000 residents just last year, Business Insider reports. In 2008, Sugako Nakagawa told Reuters that ninja is not an inheritable trade, andrequires severe training, which has caused them to silently fade away. With Japan's employment rate at 2.5 percent, the appeal of taking up intense ninja training in rural Japan is not exactly booming.

But while the city seeks to preserve their rich ninja tradition, Herships makes note of the potential reward of taking up the shuriken, saying "First of all, the pay is quite competitive. Today, ninjas can earn anything from $23,000 to about $85,000 — which is a really solid salary, and in fact, a lot more than real ninjas used to earn in medieval Japan."

If you're planning a trip to Japan, try and help keep the ninja tradition alive by visiting the Iga Ninja Museum or festival, and perhaps bringing your resume with you.

By - Big Neko.