A Japanese city has been left fighting off wannabe ninjas after a news report on local labour shortages that suggested it wanted to hire the traditional assassins went viral.
The western city of Iga was featured in a report by American radio station NPR this month about Japan's depopulation and labour shortage problems.
The report said Iga was trying to capitalise on its history as home to ninjas by building a new museum focused on the warriors, but was struggling to hire staff, including ninja performers.
In its reporting, NPR said ninja performers in Japan can earn anywhere between $23-85,000 a year. But a number of copycat reports by other media or viral sites went with less nuanced headlines such as: "This town in Japan will pay you an $85,000 salary to train as a ninja".
By Wednesday, at least 115 aspiring assassins had contacted the city and its local tourism association, puzzled Iga officials said. "Iga didn't put out information about 'a lack of ninjas in Iga' or the 'annual income of ninjas', that is currently reported by some news sites on the Internet," the city said on its website.
In a statement issued in Japanese, English and three other languages, the city tried to squelch the hopes of applicants, adding: "Please be careful about fake news."