May 3 2005
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…