How much do you know about Ninja? A Japanese-style spy engaging in various kinds of investigation activities, like what 007 does? Nowadays, Ninja has become globally known to everyone in the world through manga (Japanese comic books) such as “Ninja Turtles” and “Naruto”. In fact, a Ninja is a person who used the martial arts of “Ninjutsu” to achieve specific aims, while disguise, spying, collecting and communicating information all belong to “Ninjutsu”.
It is said that there are many Ninja training sites in around Iga, which thus gained its nickname, “Ninja Village”. Let’s smell the atmosphere of Ninja in Iga, Mie prefecture!
Where is "Ninja Village"?
There are several ways to get to Iga Ueno, whereas the most convenient and time-economic route is by Shinkansen (bullet train) and bus.
From Kansai International Airport, take Shinkansen for about 20 minutes to Kyoto. Then, ride on an Iga Ueno Express Bus bound for Iga and the ride is approximately 1.5 hours.
Isn’t it a good idea to stay a few days in Kyoto before visiting Iga?
Iga Ueno Castle: the beauty of the stone walls will surprise you
Selected to be one of the Japan’s Top 100 Castles, Iga Ueno Castle is most famous for the magnificence of the stone walls. Moreover, being one of the most tall castles in Japan, it overlooks the landscape of the area and gives you a great view of the city.
Do climb to the top floor, especially when there are exhibitions!
Turn yourself into a Ninja and enjoy!
As a “Ninja Village”, Iga Ueno of course offers you a variety of facilities about Ninjas.
Danjiri Kaikan is one of those facilities near Iga Ueno Castle. A lot of Ninja-related items are being displayed there, including items used in local festivals, like the “Daijiri” (a large wooden cart). Besides the exhibition, there are some Ninja costume rental services, and stores offering localities of Iga too!
It is for sure the best idea to experience being a Ninja when you visit there!
Ninja Museum of Igaryu: Ninja experiences and Ninja shows
Ninja Museum of Igaryu offers you a lot to enjoy. There are not only exhibitions displaying collected items related to Iga Ninjas, but also learning corners to show how Ninjas did their work and what kinds of weapons they used in a mini-theatre. Last but not least, experiencing corners are highly recommended for you to experience using the weapons.
Meanwhile at the Ninja show, you can see demonstrations of the weapons actually used by authentic Ninjas: Shuriken (literally “hidden hand blade”), Kusarigama (literally “chain-sickle”) and Katana (Japanese sword).
“Ashura, The Iga Ninja Group” will be responsible for showing the Ninjutsu here at the show. The group of Ninjas are widely recognized as Ninja specialists and there are always plenteous offers come to them from all over the world. You can see the authentic Ninjutsu that has been inherited through generations until nowadays. There you may have the fortune to take photos with the Ninjas too! Are you ready to grab such a rare chance?
A Ninja festival, where Ninjas gather and hide everywhere
There is a festival called “Iga Ueno Ninja Festa” held from early April to early May. In the festival, everyone is welcome to experience being a Ninja, including adults, children, and even dogs!
What is more fun is, there will be Ninjas hiding in the area, and if you find any of them, you will get a gorgeous prize. If you are able to decipher the Ninja characters (secret characters), you will get a Ninja sticker. It is such a fun event that you can create joyful memories with your friends or your family, by together searching around for Ninjas and gathering ideas to solve the decipher game. Do not forget your dog! “Shuriken jerky” (a treat for dogs) will be offered to your beloved dogs!
Ninja trains: lovely-designed train carriages
Do you see any trains in vivid colours running through the Iga area? They are “Ninja Trains”! There are three styles of the trains in different colours: pink, blue and green. Each style of the trains has its own decorations on both the exterior and interior of the train. Leiji Matsumoto, the top authority in the Japanese manga field, is the designer for it.
Be alert! Do not miss the Ninjas hiding in trains or at platforms of the stations!
Apart from Ninjas… Get refreshed in Iga Mokumoku Tezukuri Farm
Before you leave, don’t you feel like explore a little more? Well, Iga offers you not just Ninjas! Now, we would like to introduce to you a healing spot in Iga, called “Iga Mokumoku Tezukuri Farm”.
“Iga Mokumoku Tezukuri Farm” is a sizable farm with various kinds of facilities available. Here you can enjoy strawberry picking (which depends on the season) and handmade experiences such as Viennese sausages. As the restaurants and cafes there are operated by the farm itself, it is definitely worth a try for lunch or afternoon tea.
The top recommendation there is the “Mini Pig Show”, where you will enjoy the cute mini pigs’ performances. Let’s witness the fruit of their hard work!
Join the brotherhood of Ninjas!
How about a journey to learn about the Ninjas in “Ninja Village”, Iga? It must be fun to figure out the differences between the Ninjas in movies or dramas and the authentic Ninjas. Get to know more about the real Ninjas, and meet with the mini pigs in Iga at the end of your trip in Iga!
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