Sunday, 20 September 2015


The Iga Ueno area of Mie Prefecture was once the secret village of the Iga-Ryu ninjas, a community where the highly specialised martial arts experts train in a wide array of military, espionage and survival skills. Their abilities so well-renowned and revered, that they became part of Japan's culture and history.

To be able to stealthily sneak up on an opponent, throw ninja stars, shoot arrows is something most kids dream of -  this festival brings families to Iga Ueno to celebrate the awesomeness of ninjas! Colourful outfits are worn by both adults and children.... yes, mini ninjas are super cute and super badass! The entire Iga city becomes a ninja haven for this once a year event.  

We experience a tour of a traditional house in the ninja museum with hidden trapdoors and access routes to let the ninjas disappear from sight. Trick panels leveraged in a special manner help these highly skilled warriors store their precious belongings and weaponry. Underneath the house, there is a museum showcasing historic tools, weapons, clothing and details of how these ninja families lived in the past. 

A short walk away, is the beautiful Ueno Castle originating from the Edo period. The 30 metres high walls elevate it from its surroundings, providing the inhabitants with a strong defence and vantage point - it also provides an awesome view over Iga City.

Definitely give this place a go, especially if you are into becoming a ninja hero, even if just for a day! Don't forget to pass through the friendly local cafe to try out 'ninja desserts' and don't miss out on the matcha ice cream either. 

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