The truth of Ninja -Ninja Encyclopedia-

Koga Ninjutsu-Mura and Ninja-Yashiki

Koga no Sato, today

" Koga no Sato (甲賀の里) " as a tourist resort is not bigger than Iga (伊賀). "Koga no Sato" means a " Village of Koga (甲賀) ". In contrast to Iga, which is surrounded by deep mountains, Koga no Sato is comparatively flat but because of that, Koga no Sato is calm and quiet and you can enjoy a sense of rural Japan. Koga city is located in Shiga (滋賀) -Prefecture with a population of about 90,000. The main industries of Koga city are the sightseeing of ninjas, traditional ceramics and medicine. Ceramics made in Koga are very specialized and famous, they are called " Shigaraki-Yaki (信楽焼) ". The most well known products of shigaraki-yaki is raccoon figurines but there are many variations of shigaraki-yaki like pottery and tools of the Japanese tea ceremony. Around Koga no Sato, there are a lot of historical temples, hot springs, and fields.

Koga no Sato Ninjutsu Mura

Koga no Sato Ninjutsu Mura

Koga no Sato

Ninjutsu Mura

(甲賀の里 忍術村)

First of all, the main spot of Koga ninja sightseeing is " Koga no Sato Ninjutsu Mura (甲賀の里 忍術村) ". This theme park was made to resemble a ninja town in days gone by. Koga no Sato Ninjutsu Mura is surrounded by virgin forests and inside of Ninjutsumura, there are a lot of large theme parks.
It is highly recommended to go to " Koga Ninjutsu Museum (甲賀忍術博物館) ". There you can find some precious historical documents about ninjas like " Bansen-shukai (萬川集海) " or real ninjas weapons and tools such as shuriken, firearms, and mizugumo. Another great spot is "Karakuri Ninja Yashiki (Tricky Ninja Residence) ". This house is something that used to belong to real ninjas. It meant death for ninjas if their enemies invaded their house so ninjas set various tricks and traps there. You can experience real ninja equipment like hidden weapons, secret passageways and hidden doors. Also worth visiting is "Shuriken Dojo", shurikes symbolize everything about ninjas. A ninja teacher instructs visitors on how to throw shuriken and at " Ninja Dojo (忍者道場) " you undergo nine ninja trainings. If you could pass all of them, then you can get a scroll showing full mastership ninja skills.
In addition to those, there are many events in Ninja Mura, for instance the competition of ninja skills, a ninjutsu training camp or a beauty contest for Kunoichi (female ninjaa) . Everyone has a good time at Ninjutsu Mura.

Koga-Ryu Ninja Yashiki

Inside of Koga-Ryu Ninja Yashiki

Inside of Koga-Ryu

Ninja Yashiki

In Koga no Sato, there is a big residence where real ninjas used to live called Koga-Ryu Ninja Yashiki (甲賀流 忍者屋敷). The speciality of this mansion is that the owner was the top leader of Koga ninjas, which had been made up of 53 families. His name was Mochizuki, Izumo (望月出雲), and this house was built during 1688-1703. Although this time was during the already peaceful Edo period and not the Warring States period, some Ninjas still remained in Koga no Sato. So at a glance, this residence seems like a general ancient Japanese house, but inside of it, there are some devices to protect secrets and the life of inhabitants from enemies.
Koga-Ryu Ninja Yashiki is made up of 3 stories. I am going to introduce some interesting aspects of the building. On the first floor at the entrance, there is a pit in a dark room. The owners of this house made invaders drop into the hole by cornering them. The depth of the pit is about 6m, it is too deep to climb out of by themselves. In the worst case scenario, they would die. At the bottom of the hole there is a maze so inhabitants can escape from the house to the outside by means of passing through it. Some doors in the house are tricky too. When a ninja leans on the door from the back, the door turns around. Then, he can move to another room and for pursuers it seems like the ninja vanished. The door is called "Donden-gaeshi (どんでん返し) ". Further to this, there are sly windows called " Karakuri-Mado (からくり窓) ". This window is made with a wire net so it seems impossible to get out from there but ninjas can open it by means of inserting a key into a secret keyhole and sliding out the window.
If you visit Koga-Ryu Ninja Yashiki, you may be able to understand the psychology of ninjas more deeply.

Iwao-Yama (mountain) and Sokusyo-Ji (temple)

A View from Iwao-Yama

A View from

Iwao-Yama

(岩尾山)

I have mainly discussed about ninja theme parks so far but I will talk a little about a mountain and a temple which have a strong relationship with Koga ninjas. It must be a good experience putting yourself in the same natural place where Koga ninjas used to be.
Firstly, " Iwao-Yama (mountain) (岩尾山) " is located on both sides of Koga no Sato and Mie-Prefecture. Its height above sea-level is 471m and the slope is gentle. Iwao-Yama is the mountain where Koga ninjas used to train. In Japanese, " Iwao (巌) " means rock, so on the surface of Iwao-Yama, there are a lot of rocky places. Koga ninjas must have trained in rock climbing and Ninjutsu here.
On the summit of Iwao-Yama, you can enjoy the large 360-degree panorama, especially in the season of foliage, you can look over the sea of autumn leaves
On a hillside of Iwao-Yama, there stands a temple named " Sokusho-Ji (息障寺) " . In the precincts on this temple, you will find a big statue of Acala. It is the proof that Shosoku-Ji has been the sacred place for Yamabushis (山伏) who are considered as ancestors of ninjas for several hundreds years, . It is thought that Shosokuji had been both a meeting place and a training school for Koga ninjas.
Here, you can enjoy both the history of ninjas and Japanese nature.