Trip to Ninja Mura

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Craig and I went on a day trip to NINJA Village on May 3rd with Ai my best friend, her boyfriend Junya and our new friend Toni from West Virginia, who has been in Japan for 4 years now. We got to know Toni when Craig was looking for a job and she gave him lots of good information on how to do that.

We all got together at Tsuruhashi Station before 9:00am and headed to Iga-Kambe Station (on Kintetsu-line) where we switch a train to the final destination. I tried to book the seats for an Express Train to Iga-Kambe as we need to ride on a train for about 2 hours, however I was a bit later than other people and couldn’t. I had totally forgot that there is the Aichi Expo 2005 on and Ninja-mura (village) is on the way to Aichi! So we had to ride the rapid train instead and fortunately, the train wasn’t as packed as we had expected.

click for a larger image of us standing in front of Iga-Kambe Station
Toni, Junya, Ai and Kana at Iga-Kambe Station
As we passed the border between Osaka and Nara, we could see fewer high-rise buildings and space between houses. There was a big difference on what we see out of the window. Nara still has so much space and many trees.

The train we switched to at Iga-Kambe station had only 2 cars. Now we are on the Iga-line! We are in the season of rice planting and we saw many farmers were out on their rice paddy, filled with water and planting young rice. It was a really nice view and definitely the thing we can’t enjoy in a big city like Osaka. It was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed our train ride to Ueno City Station.

click for a larger image of Ninja Dog
Everyone say "Hello!" to Ninja Dog.
It was just 5 minutes walk from Ueno City to Ninja Village. We met Ninja family on the way, dad, 2 boys and a dog in Ninja outfit! The dog had even a small ninja sword on his back!! We asked them if we could take a picture of them and they said, "No problem." Actually, we saw many people dressed in Ninja suit, not only kids but adults too, and it was fun to see.

Click for a larger image of the Ninja costume
The famous ninja costume with more pockets than all get out.
First we went in a Ninja museum where we could see some of the tricks Ninja used or had on their houses. For instance, "false wall" which I think the most famous trick people know. This wall can spin and Ninja can hide behind it, and there is a secret way connected to the exit so Ninja can escape. "Hidden box" under the floor is a small space Ninja can keep their tools such as sword, ninja stars and stuff in case of sudden attack.

click for a larger image of the Master Ninja with the kusarigama
A master ninja demonstrates the kusarigama (sickle and chain).
After that, we enjoyed "Ninja Show" out on a small stage. Apparently one of the members of the Ninja show was in the movie, "Last Samurai", he wasn’t on the stage and we couldn’t see him unfortunately. Yet, other people’s performance was excellent. To be honest, I hadn’t expected to get that excited before the show started, you know, "yes, yes the show for the kids". However, I had fun and they were great. I could tell how they train themselves so well, otherwise, they get injured so bad. If any of you will have an opportunity to visit there, it’s worth to see.

click for a larger image of Ueno-jo
Ueno-jo (Ueno castle).
There’s Ueno Castle a couple minutes walk from Ninja museum. We could climb up to the room on the top of the castle. Stairs in the castles are made so steep and narrow to make it harder for enemies to do the sneak attack. (Stair info by Toni) Not only this fact, there are more that I don’t know or can’t explain how, and many foreigners from other countries. Which is where the saying comes from "if you are lost in Japan, ask a foreigner for directions!"

It was really a great visit and we had so much fun, although we were tired on the way back. We couldn’t find any seat on Kintetsu-line so we had to stand up about 2 hours. Oh, we talked to a granny (Obaachan) on the way there and we saw her again on the way back! She remembered Craig and Toni and said, "We got on the same train again!". It was small but quite beautiful event of the day.

Craig has been enjoying his new slippers which he bought at Ninja museum. "Ninja slippers" don’t have any difference between toe-side and heel-side so that Ninja can put those on so quick even in the case of sudden attack! I am hoping Craig will not get anything like that in the near future…

カナの親友のアイ、愛の彼ジュンヤさん、そして最近知り合ったウェストヴァージニア出身のトニと一緒に、三重県の忍者村へ行ってきました。

忍者村までは近鉄線上野駅から徒歩5分。忍者村まで歩く道すがら、忍者の衣装をまとったお父さん、息子さん2人と犬に出会いました!犬は背中に小さな剣まで装備してました。写真撮影を快諾してくださったので、記念に1枚。このご家族の他にも結構な数の人たちが忍者の衣装を身につけていて、違う空間に迷い込んだようでした。

忍者村へ入り、まず忍者博物館を見学。忍者が使っていたしかけ、敵の攻撃に備え、屋敷に設置された様々なしかけを見ることができました。中でも“偽の壁”などは多くの人が聞いたことがあるかもしれません。一見普通の壁に見えるこの“偽の壁”は、なんと回転しその後ろに隠れることができる仕組みです。また隠れ通路につながっているので、危険が迫った時には屋敷の外へ避難できるようになっているのです。“隠し箱”は刀や手裏剣など小さめの武器を床の下に隠せるようにしているもので、これもまた敵の急襲に備えた忍者の知恵のひとつです。

博物館見学の後は、ステージで繰り広げられる“忍者ショー”を楽しみました。パフォーマーグループの1人は映画“ラストサムライ”にも出演したそうですが、残念ながらこの日は登場されませんでした。正直なところ、“どうせ子供向けの内容だろう”と、ステージショーが始まる前はあまり期待していなかったのですが、みなさんのパフォーマンスはとても素晴らしく、大人の僕でも十分に興奮し、楽しめました。パフォーマーの方たちが日頃どれだけ訓練をされているのか(でなければ、大きな怪我を負う事は間違いないはずです)よくわかりました。忍者村、是非足を運んでみてください。

 

More photos of our trip to Ninja Mura
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Ai waits on the other side of the Iga-Kambe station turnstyle
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Kana walking up to Ninja Mura
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Little Ninjas in the parking lot
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Junya, Ai, Craig & Toni pose for a photo in the Ninja Mura lineup.
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Junya, Ai, Toni & Kana pose for a photo in the Ninja Mura lineup.
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Ninjas were masters of disguise…up to seven apparently.
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The tekko-kagi (hand claw weapon) was great for ripping stuff up!
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Shinobi-gatana (Ninja Sword) was stright unlinke the Samurai swords of the era.
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Junya and Ai test out the kiki-dutsu (eavesdropping cylinder) which is great for spying on your friends and enemies alike.
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Kana and Craig try out the kiki-dutsu.
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Staff setup for the Ninja demonstration.
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A ninja demontrates the power of the shinobi-gatana (ninja sword).
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Shinobi-gatana (ninja sword) demonstration.
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Toni Hando poses for a photo with Ueno-jo (Ueno castle) in the background).
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Junya & Ai pose for a photo with Ueno-jo (Ueno castle) in the background).
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Kana & Craig pose for a photo with Ueno-jo (Ueno castle) in the background).