Ninjas have a long and fascinating history, likely dating back to 12th-century Japan. Today, you can still use some of their intriguing tricks and eat their nutrient-rich diet to stay as sharp as a sword!

Throughout history and into popular culture, ninjas have been shown as fast, secretive characters. However, there is more to the ninja than masks and moves. Read on to find out all about their history and learn some cool ninja tricks in honor of International Ninja Day, on December 5.

Who Were the Ninjas?

Ninjas were secret agents in ancient Japan, skilled in activities like assassination and espionage. However, they were also said to possess a unique type of magic — likely a form of modern-day hypnotism. This is why you may see ninjas in movies making signs with their hands. Ancient ninjas also knew how to manipulate fire and explosives as weapons, making them seem mystical in a time like 12th-century Japan. Today, they can be seen in movies wielding swords and mastering martial arts. They are still as intriguing as ever, despite their long history.

What Did Ninjas Eat?

Japanese ninjas ate a diet rich in nutrients to help them stay fit, smart and strong. This included dark-colored foods, for example, black or brown rice instead of white. In ancient days, ninjas believed dark foods warmed the body instead of cooling it. Today, we know their complex carbs are good for extended energy. A ninja’s diet also included root vegetables like ginger and carrots to increase his blood circulation. Finally, ninjas avoided meat, believing it dulled their senses. Instead, they opted for a vegetarian diet that was kind on their bodies – and the environment. Today, the “ninja diet” is recommended for young entrepreneurs who need to keep up with a busy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

What Are Some Food Tricks?

The ninjas have many tips and tricks that can still be experimented with today. Here are a few fun ideas to try:

  • The Voice Trick: Melt white rock candy and black bean together and drink it when you’ve lost your voice.
  • The Feet Trick: Ninjas are storied to have run 200 kilometers a day. To ace your next long-distance run or walk, put sesame oil on the rear of your feet and eat ume-boshi (sour plum) for extra stamina.
  • The Bad Breath Trick: Eat sesame seeds or take a shot of rice vinegar for cleaner breath.