There are many fervent ninja fans outside of Japan. In Iga, where the ninja started, there are many spots that are irresistible to ninja fans. Here are four spots that are highly recommended.
What kind of place is Iga?
Iga, in the northwestern part of Mie, is famous as the home of ninja. This was the base from which ninja, who followed the Iga-ryu school of ninjutsu, maneuvered secretly around the country. There are many spots in Mie related to ninja, including a ninja museum, ninja house, and a dojo where you can experience being a ninja. The city is packed with ninja during the Iga Ueno Ninja Fiesta, which is held from April to May every year.
Iga is also known for its old townscape that retains the countenance of a castle town. In the fall, the Ueno Tenjin Matsuri, a festival that is designated as an important intangible cultural property by the Japanese government, is held with a parade of decorative portable shrines and oni demons.
1. Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu
The Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu has are several buildings on the grounds so you can learn about ninja from a variety of perspectives.
At the super popular Iga-ryu Ninja House, you can see a demonstration of the various tricks and traps set up to prevent enemies from entering. In the Ninja Experience Hall, which has more than 400 ninja tools on display, you can have a shuriken experience (200 JPY per person for five shuriken (incl. tax)). The exciting Ninja Show (400 JPY (incl. tax)) that uses actual ninja tools is also a must see!
Entrance fee: 756 JPY/adult, 432 JPY/child (both incl. tax)
2. Iga Ueno Castle
Iga Ueno Castle is another site you can't miss in Ueno Park, where Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu is. It is also referred to as Hakuho Castle because the three white tiers of the castle look as if a white (haku) Chinese phoenix is resting its wings.
A highlight of this castle is the 30m-high stone walls that are the tallest in Japan. They are to the east of the Honmaru (main quarter) and remain as they were at the time they were built. Weapons, armory and furnishings are exhibited inside the Dai-tenshukaku (the main tower of the castle in the Honmaru). There is a panoramic view of the castle town from the top floor.
Entrance fee: 500 JPY/adult, 200 JPY/child
3. Petite Ninja Henshin Dokoro
If you want to experience feeling like a ninja, the Petite Ninja Henshin Dokoro with eight locations* in the city is recommended. It is a place where you can rent ninja costumes for children and adults. There are various costume color options, such as red, blue and pink, in addition to the standard black. You are free to go out on the town wearing the costume, so you can participate in the shuriken experience and visit the castle as a ninja.
*Danjiri Kaikan, Hill Hotel Sunpia Iga and other locations.
Rental fee: 1,000 JPY and up/one costume (excluding some locations)
4. Strolling Around the Castletown
The castletown around Iga Ueno Castle retains an appearance reminiscent of the past. Teramachi-dori, a street with beautiful white walls, is a quiet neighborhood with seven temples that were built to protect the town. Other highlights include the Kyusukodo, where children of feudal warriors studied, the samurai house of the Irimajiri family, and the two-story Western-style building of Oda Elementary School. There are also many cafes and restaurants in renovated old buildings, which are great places to rest while walking around the city.
Visit the spots introduced this time and you will be able to immerse yourself in the world of ninja. Be sure to go to the castle and walk around the town as well so you can experience Iga's appeal.
*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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