What Is VR Ninja Dojo?
The Japanese are quite well known for their innovativeness. They seem to come up with a lot of endless new things composed of those that work well and are practical to some that are err...probably experimental in nature. Regardless, products like the PlayStation VR and The Nintendo Switch Labo VR have proven themselves to be original concepts that can give their foreign competitors a hard run for their cash. Now Japan leads once again in bringing forth another innovative concept into the Location-Based VR Center industry. A concept and truth that spans way back into Japan's feudalistic Medieval history, the Shinobi.
Shinobi No Mono is popularly known today as the Ninja where ancient clan operatives used shadowy tactics and stealth when it came to fighting and achieving their goals. Many of them where skilled swordsmen as well ( just like the upper classed Samurai) but were not bound by the Samurai code of death, loyalty, and honor. Instead of Bushido, the Shinobi practiced the deadly art of Ninjitsu and will use any weapon available at their disposal as opposed to their Samurai counterparts who's souls and very existence are their blades.
The disadvantage of the Shinobi and it's ancient martial art was that due to its assassin and espionage orientation, it was frowned and looked down upon by society. The Shinobi where low-class warriors, albeit awesomely skilled in their art, they did not have the prestige nor recognition accorded to the Samurai. Despite this, the colorful and cultural history of Japan would not have been complete without them lurking in the shadows in addition to the rich traditions brought by the Kabuki plays and the Geisha which made Japan, Japan.
For the sake of tourism and the promotion of the country's ancient cultural heritage combined with today’s technological, social and theatrical advances (entertainment if you will), the VR Ninja Dojo has started operations this March 2019 at Uchi Kanda district in Tokyo. The experience is a complete package that lets guests experience the world of the Shinobi both outside and inside VR.
The first part of the packaged experience consists of a class session (max. around 10 participants). The students will have to dress up as Shinobi from head to toe before going into a tutorial of various Ninjitsu weaponry and methods. These include learning how to use swords, shurikens, and other weapons. Everything including the VR experience will have to be packed into a 75-90 minute session so what one really gets is an introductory experience which though barely scratches the surface ends up being really fun and memorable especially if a large class is involved.
Participants are required to go through the activities with a seasoned martial arts instructor as sort of a warm-up and to get a feel of what to expect in the VR game. The staff are very friendly, helpful and courteous and are all able to speak English well. They will be around to assist from donning the Ninja outfits to strapping into the HTC Vive and other VR equipment like the motion trackers and sensors that one has to wear. After the tutorial, the actual VR experience takes place in a green room (green colored walls and ceiling for VR camera tracking, sensing and the like) with the participant holding an electronic strapped Tsuka (blade handle) VR prop to swing around at one's opponents.
Outside the green room, classmates will be able to view your progress in the game. While what you will see is the ancient Japanese VR world around you, you will be viewed on the outside screen as yourself (Ninja outfit and all) inside the game world slashing, swinging and throwing shurikens at anything and everything that comes at you. Your ongoing score until the total at the end of the session will be shown for them to see. As you experience the awesome combat atmosphere surrounding you in VR the rest will enjoy watching you slicing your way through the game as they cheer you on just outside the green room.
Finally, everyone gets a photoshoot of the experience and a recording of one's game downloaded into any mobile or memory device that you have. You are then given a graduation scroll as a souvenir for the experience. With a price tag of around 71.00 USD per session. Expensive as it is, the experience would no doubt be something worth remembering on one's visit to Tokyo, and besides it isn't every day that one gets to experience the life of a Shinobi in VR even if only for a brief moment.