It's a country known, at least in part, for its iconic ninja warriors.

But now it seems that Japan is suffering from a sudden shortage of martial arts experts who can continue the cultural tradition.

It comes after a boom in inbound tourism caused demand for ninja warrior live shows to soar, out-stripping supply.

An expert in the field, who manages a Nagoya-based martial arts squad in his company, claims there is an official drought of talent.

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"With the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan on the increase, the value of ninja as tourism content has increased," Takatsugu Aoki told Asahi newspaper.

"There are more employment choices, while ninja shows across the country have become popular. I feel there is a ninja shortage."

Instead, he says there's a wealth of wannabes who aspire to learn on the job, but lack the basic skills to deliver the goods. Especially when it comes to paying audiences.

Typically, a ninja's required skill set includes being trained in unarmed combat, acrobatics, concealment and first aid, while also being able to throw star-shaped blades and deadly swords.

Ninjas, also known as shinobi, have been feared and revered throughout history for their talents as assassins, scouts and spies.

They are mainly noted for their use of stealth and deception but also for their amazing powers of endurance.

Ninja-seeking tourism officials in Japan recently undertook a recruitment-drive to try and secure more genuine warriors. Photo / Getty Images
Ninja-seeking tourism officials in Japan recently undertook a recruitment-drive to try and secure more genuine warriors. Photo / Getty Images

Ninjutsu can be translated as "art of stealth" but it also means "art of enduring" and the ninjas themselves were noted for being able to walk long distances without stopping, jumping over seven feet and dislocating their joints to escape from small spaces.

But they are not only ruthless killers as depicted in so many Hollywood movies.

In fact, ninjas considered the art of espionage a far greater skill than that of fighting, which was always a last resort. Ninjas were skilled in spying and defeating foes using intelligence, while swinging a sword was deemed a lower art.

But if necessary, they had to be experts with weapons such as shuriken, a sharpened star-shaped projectile, and the fukiya blowpipe, usually filled with a poison dart.

And they were also skilled at making both poisons and medicines.