What are the best Ninja experiences in Japan? Learn the skills of Japan’s legendary ninjas, or check out the best acrobatic shows (and even restaurants!). Whether you want to throw ninja stars or watch masters show off their training, find the tour and activities you are looking for on this page!
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What you will find on this page:
A person who uses Ninjutsu is a ninja. Ninjutsu is not a martial art. Ninjutsu is an independent art of warfare that developed mainly in the regions of Iga in Mie Prefecture, and Koka in Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
So, do you know what kind of job ninja were doing?
Most people imagine that ninjas flew through the sky and disappeared, like Superman, waving ninja swords around, sneaking into the enemy ranks and assassinating generals… This is a mistaken image of the ninja introduced by movies and comic books.
The jobs of a ninja are divided into the two main categories of performing espionage and strategy. The methodology for performing espionage and strategy is Ninjutsu. Espionage is similar to the job of modern spies, wherein one carefully gathers intelligence about the enemy and analyzes its military strength.
Strategic activities are skills that reduce the enemy’s military power. Ninja did not fight strong enemies by themselves. Ninja fought enemies after they had reduced the enemies’ military power. In times of peace, Ninjutsu was called an art of “entering from afar”, while in times of war, Ninjutsu was called an art of “entering from “nearby”, wherein ninja would constantly gather intelligence concerning the enemy, thinking of ways to beat the enemy, but not fighting the enemy directly. Ninja who thought rationally thought of war by intellect as great, and war by military strength (weapons) as foolish. Therefore, ninja who swing their ninja swords about can be called the lowest of the ninja.
The Ninjutsu of Iga-ryu and Koga-ryu stem from the same source, and are said to be the highest of the Ninjutsu.
As early as the 11th century, the inhabitants of Iga and Koka gained a reputation for their skills in unconventional warfare. Close to the political center of Kyoto, yet distinctly remote due to their rugged terrains, Iga and Koka presented an ideal hideout location for refugees, bandits, and losing parties of battles. Many ninja families lived here within autonomously governed communities, developing their martial skills for self-defense.
During the age of the warring states in the 15th and 16th centuries, many warlords would hire the ninja of Iga and Koka as mercenaries for their set of unique skills in facilitating the conquest of castles and victories in battles. These were the heydays of the ninja.
Once peace was established in the 17th century, the ninja was mainly employed by the Tokugawa Shogunate to spy on the various regional lords and to guard Edo Castle. During these times, the ninja became greatly romanticized in popular cultures, such as kabuki, which led to inaccuracies in the common perception of them. The stereotypes were subsequently exported to the West and further developed to entertain audiences there.
The best places to appreciate the ninja today are Iga and Koka, the traditional heartlands of the ninja, and Togakushi in Nagano, home of the Togakure school of the ninja. These respective regions offer some actual buildings used by the ninja in the past and/or museums that house previously used tools and weapons, thus retaining some level of authenticity.
Other ninja attractions include those found at theme parks and are relatively more commercialized. Ninja scenarios are recreated and ninja shows are staged according to popular conceptions for entertainment. Ninja mansions are a feature at many ninja locations. They are houses built with trapdoors and secret passages, forming mazes that visitors have to find their way through.
Iga, in the northwest of Mie Prefecture, is famous as a place where many ninjas lived, especially in the late 15th to 16th centuries. There are still many sites in Iga such as the Ninja Museum and the site of the fortress where they fought a huge army.
At first glance, it is an ordinary farmhouse, but in the ninja mansion, there are gimmicks such as twisting, hidden stairs, and gimmick doors to protect the gunpowder preparation method and ninjutsu, which are the most advanced technology at that time, which are handed down to each ninja house. It was equipped with a mechanism. Here, Ninja Yakunoichi (female ninja) will demonstrate the inside of the ninja mansion and guide you.
Demonstrate what weapons and tools the ninja used, played a role, and protected himself. There are as many performances as there are techniques, from the familiar shuriken sword fighting to turning around with real weapons, which is a sweaty action that unfolds in front of you. Please enjoy the demonstration full of speed and power.
Get dressed in a ninja costume and enjoy a stroll through Iga’s neighborhood. It is quite common for visitors to Iga to explore the town wearing ninja costumes.
A ninjutsu book in which ninjas put their thoughts into it. Many ninja tools, “ninja tools” are drawn in it.
At the Ninjutsu Experience Center, you can see replica ninjutsu made based on the ninjutsu book and ninja tools such as the familiar shuriken and mizugumo.
Experience shuriken, one of the martial arts that ninjas also learned! A real shuriken is heavy when you pick it up, and if you hit it with good rotation, it may stick to you. Once you experience it, you will definitely be addicted to it!
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