【Shiga Prefecture】 Ninja Combat Experience and All-You-Can-Eat Omi Beef/Matsutake Mushroom at NINJA Village

Koka in Shiga Prefecture and Iga in Mie Prefecture are widely known as the birthplace of ninja, not only in Japan, but also overseas. Koka, the home of Koka-ryu ninjutsu (Koka-style fighting art of the ninja), is a place surrounded by the lush nature of Suzuka Mountains where many cultural properties remain at the Shinobi no Sato Iga/Koka that is accredited as a Japanese heritage. At Koka no Sato, you must try the ninjutsu dojo (ninja fighting hall) at Koka no Sato Ninjutsu-mura (Koka Ninja Village). The ninja experience that they offer, which will let you learn about such skills as stonewall climbing, is so popular that it has even been picked up by foreign media. If you go through this experience while clad in ninja costume, you will really feel like a true ninja. Now after you enjoy the view of Mt. Koshin where ninjas trained, you can proceed to relishing the delicious dishes and soaking in the onsen (hot spring). With the Ganso Abare-gui (Hurricane Buffet) of Uomatsu Honten where you can have as much Matsutake mushrooms and Omi beef as you want, and the Bihada no Yu (the hot spring waters) that will make your skin even more beautiful, this ninja village is definitely a place that is overflowing in appealing spots that will draw everybody, not just ninjas and ninja lovers. <※The information is from KansaiWalker (issued on November 21, 2017)>

<10:00 am> 【Japan Heritage Site】 Koka no Sato Ninjutsu-mura – Challenge Ninja Combat Skills at the Ninja Village!

Ninjutsu-mura (Ninja Village) is certified as a Japanese heritage site thanks to the karakuri ninja yashiki (ninja house full of tricks) of the then Fujibayashi family. The ninja yashiki has been designated as part of the Hakubutsukan Tatemono-gun (Koka Ninja Museum Building Group). In this village, you can tour the ninja houses and museum, as well as enter the Ninjutsu Dojo. So, what are you waiting for? Go and learn such techniques as “mizugumo” (walking on water) and earn the scroll that proves you have mastered the skills of ninja.

Change into a ninja costume (1,030 JPY) and challenge the Ninja Dojo (free). If you manage to pass and clear nine techniques such as side walking on walls or fences (shown in the photo), you will be given the ninja skills mastery scroll.

This is a ninja house full of tricks that was the former house of the Fujibayashi family, who descended from real ninja. It is filled with tricks such as secret doors.

This is the lesson on climbing castle walls. The trick here is to climb based on the guidelines of bouldering.

The first thing that probably comes to mind when talking about ninjas is the shuriken (throwing star). At this village, you can try the Shuriken Dojo (300 JPY for eight stars) where you can experience authentic shurikens.

A Japanese heritage site, this is Koka Ninja Museum that showcases such materials as Mansen Shukai that is known as one of the three greatest books of secret of ninjas.

This village that is surrounded by a native forest is also dotted with karakuri ninja houses and other structures.

■ Koka no Sato Ninjutsu-mura <Address: 394 Oki, Koka-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga / Phone: 0748-88-5000 / Hours: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (last entry at 3:30 pm) ※Varies depending on the season / Closed: Mondays (following day in case Monday is a public holiday) / Entrance fee: 1,030 JPY / Parking space: 480 slots>

Koka no Sato Ninjutsu-mura

394 Oki, Koka-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga

<12:30 pm> 【Japan Heritage Site】 Koshin-zan Kotoku-ji – A Picturesque Spot in Koka Where Ninjas Also Trained!

Located 407m above sea level, Koshin-zan Kotoku-ji Temple is recognized as a Japanese heritage site that, along with Iwaosan and Handozan, served as a training ground for yamabushi (mountain priests). With their towering huge rocks, these three mountains of Koka were apparently places where Koka ninjas trained. The panoramic view of Koka from the observation deck is exhilarating.

From the observation deck at the summit, you can enjoy an unbroken view of the town of Koka.

■ Koshin-zan Kotoku-ji <Address: 988 Yamagami, Minakuchi-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga / Phone: 0748-60-2690 (Koka City Tourism Association) / Hours: Free time / Closed: None / Entrance fee: Free / Parking space: 10 slots at Koshin-zan Kotoku-ji parking lot (free)>

Koshin-zan Kotoku-ji

988 Yamagami, Minakuchi-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga

<1:30 pm> Uomatsu Honten – Get Your “Lifetime’s Worth” of Matsutake Mushrooms and Omi Beef

Uomatsu Honten is a restaurant that is famous for its Ganso Abare-gui (Hurricane Buffet) – an all-you-can-eat course of Omi beef and Matsutake mushrooms. It was renovated in 2015 to boost its seating capacity to about 1,200 seats. This restaurant offers customers the chance to indulge in two of Shiga’s most luxurious ingredients for 90 minutes. Its course is so lavish that it even comes with a souvenir of Matsutake Kombu (Matsutake mushroom and kelp).

The Matsutake & Omigyu Tabehodai (All-You-Can-Eat Matsutake Mushrooms and Omi Beef) (7,560 JPY) course requires a reservation at least a day prior to your visit. It comes with free refills of Matsutake rice cooked in a Matsutake Dobin-mushi (steamed in earthen pot).

The all-you-can-eat Matsutake mushrooms and Omi beef – one of the three best wagyu (Japanese beef) in Japan – served in a sukiyaki pot is available throughout the year. It probably need not be said that the vegetables and eggs are unlimited, too. The key to eating a lot is to make the sukiyaki broth mild in the beginning.

Aside from the new building, this restaurant also has the Honkan (main building) that has unique rooms that showcase antiques, folk crafts and other wares. ※This room cannot be reserved.

■ Uomatsu Honten <Address: 2376 Kami, Koka-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga / Phone: 0748-88-2206 / Hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm / Closed: None / Seating capacity: About 1,200 seats / Parking space: 50 slots (free)>

Uomatsu Honten

2376 Kami, Koka-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga

<4:00 pm> Koka-Shinobi no Yado Miyano Onsen – Relax in the Famous Hot Spring in this Secret Hideaway

Koka-Shinobi no Yado Miyano Onsen is a hot spring inn in Koka no Sato. This hot spring, that is believed to have gushed out as a sign from the deity in ancient times is famous as a hot spring for beautiful skin. You can visit this famous hot spring resort on a day trip. Aside from a large public bath and open-air bath, there is a family bath decorated by cute tanuki (raccoon) ornaments, too.

This is the open-air bath with two bathtubs made of Shigaraki-yaki (Shigaraki Ware). The exhaustion from the ninja experience will be wiped away by this hot spring for beautiful skin that flows into this ninja village that is surrounded by lush nature.

This is a hot spring inn in Koka no Sato that has a history that dates back more than 100 years. Aside from accommodation packages and day-tour baths, it also offers day trip packages with lunch.

■ Koka-Shinobi no Yado Miyano Onsen <Address: 364 Sugitani, Konan-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga / Phone: 0748-86-2212 / Hours: Day trip bath: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm (last entry at 8:00 pm) / Closed: Wednesdays (following day if Wednesday is a public holiday) / Entrance fee: 800 JPY, Family bath (4,500 JPY for 60 minutes) / Parking space: 40 slots (free)>

Koka-Shinobi no Yado Miyano Onsen

364 Sugitani, Konan-cho, Koka-shi, Shiga

【Japan Heritage】 Shinobi no Sato Iga/Koka – The Story of Seeking for Real Ninjas

Ninjas were people who developed and fostered their own skills and knowledge from the special environment surrounded by mountains near the capitals of Kyoto and Nara. If you walk through their special ninja village, you will feel like there are real ninjas out there. The Iga-ryu Ninja Hakubutsukan (Ninja Museum of Igaryu) in Iga, Mie is also recognized as a heritage site.

This is the ninja experience hall at the Ninja Museum of Igaryu where ninja tools are on display.

Access to Koka in Shiga from Osaka

It takes approximately 70 minutes and 94km to travel from the Minatomachi Exit off the Hanshin Espressway to the Konan IC off the Shin-Meishin Espressway. Toll fee is 3,910 JPY (2,970 JPY if with ETC discount).

To get to Koka no Sato Ninjutsu-mura from Konan IC, head east on Prefectural Road 337, turn left at the T-junction at the end of the road, head north on Prefectural Road 134, turn right at the Nojiri intersection, head southeast on Prefectural Road 4, turn left on the signboard and then head north. It takes about 10 minutes to traverse that approximately 7km distance.

[This article was originally published in Walkerplus on 12.04.2017]

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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