Being a Ninja in Togakushi

Learn about the hidden lives of Togakushi natives

By Kenny King Hin Choi    - 3 min read

The Togakushi plateau in Nagano prefecture shrines is hidden deep in the forest and blend themselves well with nature. It provides the perfect ground for monks to live a secluded life; at the same time this is where ninja train themselves and hide themselves from the outside world. Always keeping themselves inconspicuous, they are hard to spot and their stories are always shrouded in mystery. If you want to learn more about them, this is the place to be!

Opposite to the entrance path leading to the Okusha branch of the Togakushi shine is the Togakushi ninja house and folk museum. It is museum, garden and theme park put together. You will always be surprised by the tricks installed at the most unexpected places. The ninja house is the main attraction of the whole park. It is a two-story house in which you have to find your way out once you are inside. There are trapdoors and hidden exits disguised so well that you have to almost touch and try everything before you can get out. No strength but your wits could lead you to the exit. Action-packed efforts and assassinations as seen in ninja movies are fortunately not required in this house. However, your agility will be tested on the bridge opposite to the ninja house and the tower next to it. What's more, you can try throwing real darts in another smaller hut. You will receive a small prize if you hit the target five times.

On the second floor of the large farmhouse, the ninja museum gives an extensive introduction to the tradition of ninja in Japan. Their weapons, clothes and other gadgets are all shown. Combined with pictures of their movements and training, it gives you a more vivid idea of their agility and lethalness. Fancy items such as blowguns, camouflages, darts and even underwater breathing devices define their superhuman character. It is as if you are in a James Bond movie as you go through these exhibits.

The ground floor of the farmhouse and the folk museum next to the entrance introduce the local village life of Togakushi. Items made from bamboo, religious figures, dining utensils, straw shoes, as well as old furniture tell a lot about the area's history. If you are tired after your time in the ninja park or from comprehending all the exhibits of both museums, there is a tea house behind the folk museum where you could enjoy the garden scenes and the view of the majestic mountains in the east.

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Kenny King Hin Choi

Kenny King Hin Choi @kenny.king.hin.choi

I had spend almost the last 10 years traveling to different corners of the world seldom reached by others as tourists. Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Bangladesh and Ukraine are among many others. To see and smell a place first handedly is absoulutely differnt from reading and hearing from mass media. Japan has been the country I always aspired to as I first set foot there when I was 14 years old. The rich cultural heritage and freindliness of the people left inside me a wonderful memory. Therefore I was there again when I was 17. I have been recently staying in Germany for my studies, traveling around Europe to experience its diversity and rich history. Yet I still wish I could visit Japan again in the near future, preferably to Hokaiido and Fukuoka. Outside traveling, my hobbit is photography, cycling, sailing and cooking. Honestly Japanese food is one of the best in the world. As a fish lover, I could not resist Japanese crusine. Otherwise, Ramen, Sushi and green tea are all my favourite. When I read cultural studies in the university in Hong Kong, Japan turned out to me as a very speical society. The mentality and popular culture which has affected the world is inspiring. I really hope I could go deeper into this when I got the chance.

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Justin Velgus 4 years ago
Looks really fun. This brought back memories tackling the ninja obstacle course in Akita!
https://en.japantravel.com/akita/ninja-training-grounds/2777