A set of recently discovered World War II documents has revealed that a secret military spy school taught ninjutsu, martial arts techniques used by ninjas, as part of its curriculum. The Rikugun Nakano Gakko was run by the Japanese Imperial Army, and was used to train military intelligence operatives in secret. It is believed that almost all documents related to the school were destroyed before WWII ended, so this is the first real information from official documents that confirms the school’s existence.
The reports that were found had been sent to the war minister at the time about the training facility’s initial graduating class. While the student weren’t just taught how to sneak around in their black footed-pajamas with a katana and throwing stars (unfortunately), they also learned more practical methods of gathering intelligence and sabotage, including bomb-making and photography. It is believed that the school was meant to train soldiers who would be serving behind enemy lines. A total of roughly 2,300 soldiers are believed to have graduated from the training facility before it was closed in 1945.
After reviewing the documents, it was learned that those graduating earned around 1,290 credits, and were required to take subjects like military science, which included the study of foreign militaries, topography, and weapons, as well as learn three foreign languages (English, Chinese, and Russian). While the reports don’t specify exactly what ninjutsu skills were taught, the students did learn swordsmanship and judo. The informative documents were discovered by Taketoshi Yamamoto, an expert on information history and professor emeritus at Waseda University. He says that until now, there has only sketchy information about the school’s existence, but these new reports help to shed light on its establishment.