Yesterday I talked about visiting Legoland Japan and Nagashima Spa Land in Part 1, so today I’d like to talk about my expedition to the Ninja Village of Iga. Though the historic practice of Ninjutsu is now considered a dead art, this village houses a large museum showcasing its origin. There are also ninja shows performed by professional actors, shops and shrines, and a large castle you can enter. Since this village is very remote, the number of tourists is usually lower than other attractions in Kansai. Iga is located in Mie Prefecture but the whole city can be seen during a day trip from Nagoya or Osaka.
Riding the train from Iga-Kambe Station to Iga-Ueno Station is a one-of-a-kind experience because the train artwork was done by Reiji Matsumoto, most famous for Galaxy Express 999. There are also ninjas poised to attack inside the train car, so you are best off practicing your defense techniques beforehand (jokes aside, the short ride through the mountainous terrain in this two-car train is incredible).
When you get off at Iga Ueno Station, you have the option to rent bikes or walk. You can see the major points of attraction within 3 – 4 hours on foot, so I would just recommend walking. You can pick up a map at the tourism center next to the station so navigating the city is self-explanatory. I started my trip by eating some some ninja udon at a noodle place called Kyuan (I greatly appreciated the shape of the toppings) then headed to Iga Ueno Castle so I could get a nice view of the entire village:
After doing some photography, I made my way to the gates of the ninja museum. There are ninja shows almost every hour that you can see for 400 yen. Unfortunately they are not allowed to be recorded, but they are worth seeing if you come all the way out here. I enjoyed seeing the cute tiger mascot of Iga and some of the weapons that ninjas used in ancient times. There is some English guidance so you can read about the history of the city at your leisure. The village museum is designed for all ages and there are some really interesting artifacts there. There are also handmade ninja charms you can buy.
Is it worth it?
Iga is roughly 2.5 hours from Nagoya and is quite a long day compared to the other attractions I mentioned in the first part of my article. The city itself is quite small and can be seen within 4 hours. Some of the attractions seem a bit gimmicky, but like most rural places I’ve visited I still enjoyed my time here. As someone who lives in one of the busiest cities in the world, I have great appreciation for places like this. Much of the now-abandoned ninja culture has been preserved here, so this is a rare chance to see it if you are interested in the history of Japan. Not to mention Iga is a peaceful place with friendly people so your time will be valued here.
If you are interested in reading about the history of the Iga Ninja online before you go, please check the Koka Ninja House website.
117 Uenomarunouchi, Iga, Mie 518-0873
From Kintetsu Nagoya Station, take the Kintetsu Limited Express to Nabari Station, then transfer to the same express going to Iga-Kambe Station. From there you can ride the special ninja train to Iga Ueno Station and get off to reach the ninja village. This costs 4210 yen one way and takes 2.5 hours, but was overall worth it in my opinion.
Admission Fee: 500 yen