Japan Hires Its First American Ninja

PHOTO: American Chris ONeill has reportedly become Japans first salaried foreign ninja.Courtesy Chris O'Neill
American Chris O'Neill has reportedly become Japan's first salaried foreign ninja.

A young American martial artist has been selected to become a full-time ninja in Japan.

Ninjas were elite spies in feudal Japan and their legend lives on in movies and books. One Japanese city, however, has decided to recruit new ninjas in a bid to promote tourism.

Chris O'Neill, 29, who has been working stunt jobs for commercials, movies, and television shows in Japan for 3 months, auditioned for the job on March 30.

"One of my friends in Hong Kong sent me a message about this opportunity," O'Neill told ABC News in an email. "Then, a completely different friend from the USA tagged me in Facebook post," and "I eventually found a link to the original Japanese posting."

PHOTO: American Chris ONeill has reportedly become Japans first salaried foreign ninja. Courtesy Chris ONeill
American Chris O'Neill has reportedly become Japan's first salaried foreign ninja.

Aichi prefecture in central Japan had been seeking six full-time ninjas. The goal of these ninjas will be to promote tourism in Aichi and teach people about the historical and present day interpretations of Japan's revered warrior.

PHOTO: American Chris ONeill has reportedly become Japans first salaried foreign ninja. Courtesy Chris ONeill
American Chris O'Neill has reportedly become Japan's first salaried foreign ninja.

For this audition there were 235 applicants, of which more than 80 percent were foreigners. Satoshi Adachi of Aichi's tourism unit told AFP that O'Neill dazzled the panel with an "amazing" array of acrobatic back flips.

"He has great acrobatic skill and the ability to speak in front of the public. He's also passionate about promoting tourism," Mr Adachi said.

O'Neill wasn't so sure he nailed the job, though.

"Normally, I never get nervous for auditions. However, for this audition, they had an interview session for about half an hour before the performance session. My Japanese is soooooooo bad. I was really nervous to try to understand what they said and speak in Japanese for them," he said.

PHOTO: American Chris ONeill has reportedly become Japans first salaried foreign ninja. Courtesy Chris ONeill
American Chris O'Neill has reportedly become Japan's first salaried foreign ninja.

O'Neill and his six Japanese colleagues will receive a one-year contract and earn a monthly salary of $2,100 traveling and performing for people in Japan and around the world, according to AFP.