Kansai's Hidden Treasures: Ninja Town!

With ninjas ubiquitous to Japan, why not visit the home of the ninjas, Iga? Iga was the home of one of Japan’s premier ninja schools, and its storied past is evident to this day. 
Although there are no more real ninjas, the town has carefully preserved its roots. Even the train station harkens back to the town’s past, with “ninjas” greeting you upon your arrival.
While also home to Basho memorials (which commemorate one of Japan’s most famous poets, Matsuo Basho), and the Ueno Castle, the highlight of the town is its ninja museum. Iga Ninja Museum provides an excellent overview of ninja history, and is appropriate for all ages. Upon entry, a ninja museum staff will take you on a tour of the museum, pointing out the various tactics that ninjas used in their work. While the explanations are all in Japanese, there are scrolls hanging down from the ceiling in each room with translations. 
The conclusion of the tour brings visitors to an exhibit hall further describing ninja culture. All of the information on the descriptive signs are translated into English, making perusal extremely easy. 
The museum’s highlight is easily its ninja show. While visitors must pay for it separately from the admission fee, this highly dynamic and engaging show is well worth it. The 15-20 minutes of flying shurikens (ninja stars) and high-speed fighting scenes are a treat for all ages. At the conclusion, visitors can also have a go at throwing shurikens—just a word of warning though: it’s much harder than the show’s ninjas made it look. 
Getting to Iga:
-       JR Kansai Line to Iga-Ueno Station, then transfer to the Iga Railway to Ueno-shi.  
-       Kintetsu Railways via the Kintetsu Osaka Line to Iga-Kanbe. 
-       If you want to feel like a ninja, there are several places in town that allow you try on a ninja costume for a day. 
Tips to Save Money: 
-       The city is easily walkable so pass on the buses and just a tourist map from the tourist center across the street from the train station to make your way around.
-       Take advantage of the ninja museum entrance ticket + ninja show combo ticket. 

Eri Lin