Located in Koka-City, Shiga-Prefecture, “Ninja Village” is an amusement park of ninja with its center at Ninja Museum that introduces the facts of Koka fifty-three families with real tools as well as documents.
There are facilities, including ninja house that is full of Japanese traditional mechanical devices, a pond of Mizugumo (ninja water-walking shoes), and a dojo (training hall) of throwing stars.
If playing wearing a rental costume, you can also soak in ninja or “Kunoichi (female ninja)” feelings.
Why don’t you enjoy the world of Koka ninja that all ages from children to adults can enjoy?
“Karakuri (Japanese traditional mechanical devices) house” and “Ninja Museum”
Koka-ryu style is the one of the most famous styles of ninja art, alongside with Iga-ryu style that is located in a place separated by a mountain.
And it is a general term of a school of ninja art style that is inherited in the region of Koka of Omi Province.
As the center of Koka-ryu style ninja art, ”Koka fifty-three families” were local samurai fifty-three families in Koka, and they formed the self-governing organization that was called as “Kokagun Chusou”.
Unlike Iga-ryu style managed with a hierarchical relationship, they managed various decision making and problem solving by a council system.
“Ninja Village in Koka” is a hidden village that is surrounded with wild forest of the foot of Suzuka-yama mountain, and as there is no place where can overview the whole village, it emits indeed atmosphere of Ninja village.
When you enter the village, let’s try going firstly to “Karakuri (Japanese traditional mechanical devices) house” and “Ninja Museum”.
You can hear the detailed explanation of staffs who wrapped themselves with ninja costumes.
“Karakuri (Japanese traditional mechanical devices) house” is a folk house of about 180 years ago that was the former Fujibayashi family, which was dismantled and was reconstructed in a different place.
Fujibayashi-clan is also known as an editor of “the Bansenshukai (the book of ninja)”, which is the most famous as a manual of ninja art.
Inside of the “Karakuri house”, there are many karakuri, including a complete reversal, a pitfall, and hidden stairs.
“Collection of ladders” of Ninja Museum Is the Masterpiece
“Ninja Museum” is a house of the former Okada family, which was reconstructed in a different place.
The Okada family served to Oki-clan, which was the one of the Koka twenty-one families.
As the Koka twenty-one families was the most trusted amongst the Koka fifty-three families that they received kanjo letters (letters commending distinguished achievements in a battle) from Sasaki Rokkaku-clan, who was the former lord.
The age of the house is thought as late Edo Period, and it transmits the representing style of folk houses of Koka.
The highlight at Ninja Museum is the exhibit of “climbing tools” that were used when ninja climbed up on a castle wall and a stone fence, etc.
Ninja used various kinds of ladders, including “a knotted ladder”, “a long ladder”, and “a winding ladder”.
Especially, a knotted ladder is a superb tool, which can be disassembled in pieces when they carry, and which can be reassembled easily wherever just with ropes and woods.
A winding ladder can be carried in compact style together with other goods as it can be folded, and its style is applied even today to some “a fire escape rope ladder”.
A manual of ninja art “the Bansenshukai (the book of ninja)” is also exhibited
Often, in a period drama of ninja, there depicts the combats over the manuals, but the information cannot be easily stolen from the scrolls, as the secret heart of ninja art, etc. is transmitted by the oral tradition.
Also, “the Bansenshukai (the book of ninja)”, which is said as the one of the three major secret books, alongside with “Seininki (True Path of the Ninja)” and “Ninpiden”, is the manual of ninja art that was written in the coded messages.
Let’s Transform to Koka Ninja with “A Rental Costume”
At the recommended spot for photo shooting, there is “a hand of the great image of Buddha”.
It is the hand of the great Buddha, which was used in the filming location of “the great Buddha hall on fire” in “Iga Ninpocho” of Kadokawa Pictures.
At “Ninja Village in Koka”, there is also “a rental costume”, with which you can transform to ninja.
Fees of the rental costume are 700 Yen for children and 1100 Yen for adults. Hoods are 200 Yen separately.
After changed to a ninja costume, let’s try shooting photos, forming a hand seal of “Ninja pose”.
By the way, “ninja costume” is said generally as black, but originally it is thought as an intermediate color like reddish brown.
Also, there are attached eight to ten pockets of big and small, and ninja concealed and carried a blinding spray and a throwing star in these pockets.
“Ninja Dojo(Training Hall)” that You Can Experience For Free
What you can experience with free of charge is “Ninja Dojo”.
There are nine barriers, which are a pond of Mizugumo (ninja water-walking shoes), a well with a hidden through passage, a walk on a bridged tree trunk, a climbing up on a steep, a tightrope walking, a walk along the wall, a walk sideways along the fence, going over the fence, and climbing up the stone fence.
When you clear all the barriers, you will be given a scroll of “ninja full proficiency license”.
At the popular water-walking device “an art of Mizugumo”, you will soak till your shins in the water, so you would be better to roll up the pants hems.
At “an art of Mizugumo”, it is important to go forward slowly and not to rush.
If you fail, you will completely soak in the water, so please prepare change of clothes for sure.
Where you can enjoy throwing stars of real size is Koka-ryu style “dojo of throwing stars.”
You can experience feeling the real weight.
A fee for challenge is 300 Yen for eight throws.
“Sarutobi Sasuke”, one of the Sanada Ten Braves, was Koka ninja
“Shinobi-jinja Shrine” is a shrine where enshrined ninja who passed away without a fame. Daikokuten (Daikoku Sama) is enshrined in its front.
It is built in early Edo Period, and it is Koka Daikokuten that is said as the Japan’s number one of wooden made.
It brings luck, including prosperity of business, , success and good luck in life, and also good marriage.
Let’s worship there by all means.
Near Shinobi-jinja Shrine, there is the monument of “the birth place of Sarutobi Sasuke” of Koka ninja, also the one of Sanada Ten Braves.
Although Sarutobi Sasuke is an imaginary person, it is also said that Kozuki Sasuke, Shimotsugeno Kizaru, was a model.
By the way, the former Fujibayashi house (karakuri ninja house) and the former Okada house (Koka Ninja Museum) of “Ninja Village in Koka” were accredited as “The Villages of Secret Arts -The Real Ninja of Iga and Koga-” of Japan Heritage in 2017 as the composition of cultural treasure.
When you visited to Koka, why don’t you try playing in the world of Koka ninja at “Ninja Village in Koka”, the ninja’s amusement park?
Basic information of Ninja Village in Koka
Address: 394 Oki, Koka-Town, Koka-City, Shiga-Prefecture
Admissions: Adults 1100 Yen, Junior high and High school students 900 Yen, Children 800 Yen, Toddlers 600 Yen
Opening hours: 10AM to 4PM (Varies depending on seasons/ To check opening hours, please call at 0748-88-5000.)
Access: Free shuttle services available from the north exit of Koka station of JR Kusatsu Line
Please check and confirm the latest information on the official website.