Written by Merilwen Horseback
Iga Ueno Castle And The Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum: A Real Ninja Experience!
The Iga Ueno Castle, also known as Hakuho Castle, is surrounded by one of the highest stone walls in Japan. The Ninja Museum of Iga-Ryu is a real ninja house located near the castle. It’s time to learn all the secrets of the ninja!
Iga in Mie Prefecture is a city with a long ninja tradition. If you like ninjas, you should definitely visit this place!
In this article, we will introduce you to two of the main attractions of Iga, the Iga Ueno Castle and the Ninja Museum of Iga-Ryu.
For information on how to access Iga and how to become a ninja yourself, take a look at the following article: Iga Ninja Village – Where Your Ninja Dreams Come True!
The Iga Ueno Castle and the Highest Stone Wall in Japan
Iga Ueno Castle was built in the late 16th century. It is located inside the Ueno Park and is one of the three main attractions of the Iga Ninja Village. It is also known as Hakuho Castle (White Phoenix Castle) because of its white exterior, elegantly curved roof and beautiful architecture.
The stone wall surrounding Iga Ueno Castle reaches a height of approximately 30 m. It is one of the highest stone walls in Japan alongside the wall surrounding Osaka Castle.
From the window of the castle, you can see the whole area running up to the faraway mountain range. Here, urbanization hasn’t shown much of its influence, so the landscape still keeps its calm and peaceful atmosphere and thus, visitors can see an image of Iga that is not-too-different from how it looked several centuries ago.
The Museum inside the Castle
Inside, the castle hosts a museum which displays many historical artefacts related to the area and to the Iga clan in particular.
Even on the ceiling, there are vestiges of works by many famous poets and artists of the region.
Traps Inside the House! Beware while Walking around the Ninja Museum!
Our last stop is the Ninja Museum of Iga-Ryu - one of the most exciting parts of the exploration! At the first glance, this is a normal residence with all the features of a traditional Japanese house. Nothing seems to be different about it, because all the secrets are hidden inside.
If you follow the lead of the Ninja guide, all the secrets of this building will be revealed to you one by one. Look at the wooden wall behind the ninja. It looks solid but it’s not! Choose the right panel to lean on, and you will disappear or appear in front of your enemies in just the blink of an eye. It is actually a swing door that leads to a secret chamber behind the wall.
How about the wooden floor? It is a perfect place to hide anything. Your scroll of secret skills, your sword, or even yourself! You won't see any marks or gaps on the floor. If you touch the right place, the lid will bounce up, and you can jump inside.
There is a tunnel that connects the room to another room as well as the garden. By the time your enemies become aware of your disappearance, you will be long gone.
If you don’t want to leave your beloved house behind, there is a way to both defend your house and attack your foes. All you need to do is simply pull out a shelf from the wall and it will transform into a staircase leading to a hidden room on the top.
In a traditional Japanese house, ranma are panels near the ceiling designed to let light into the rooms. Only when the light is on, you will notice that the normal looking ranma is a window to a secret loft in this house. From there, you can take your time watching and analyzing the intruders carefully before deciding how to attack or scare them away.
There are many unthinkable traps that a ninja can install in his house. A different house will host different secrets. They are never the same.
Another surprising thing is that with all these changes and adjustments, the house itself still appears normal and keeps its original purpose as a place to live.
The key is that you have to know exactly where to place your hands, put your feet, or lean to, if you don’t want to fall into your own traps.
At the end of the museum tour, you will be led to an underground chamber where many ninja artifacts and documents are exhibited. You can learn about their secret codes, their strategies, as well as about their daily life.
The museum shop is also located in this area. Don't forget to check it out! There may be some souvenirs you might want to bring home from this amazing museum.
Imagine yourself in times of war. If you knew this is a ninja's house, would you dare stepping inside to explore it?
The Ninja Show
The outdoor stage in the museum yard hosts a very exciting event six days a week - the Ninja Show! It contains demonstrations of various skills and weapons. The show is a story that recreates the atmosphere of the fights during the heydays.
The show is scheduled several times a day, and a ticket costs 400 yen per person. To make sure you won’t miss it, check their schedule online.
The Shurinken Throwing Experience
You can also experience the art of shuriken throwing in the museum yard. Shuriken are throwing stars used by ninjas.
In the museum yard, there are targets lined up above the ground. Pay 200 yen to receive your shurikens and you are allowed to throw five times.
Follow Your Ninja Dreams!
The Iga Ninja Village is a perfect destination for any fan of Japanese culture. You can visit with your family, your friends, or alone. The three amazing attractions close to each other make it possible to visit them all in one day without making your trip too hectic.
If you need a little break, Ueno Park is always there offering a green space, shade and a beautiful scenery. So when will you visit Iga?