Two NINJA villages in Japan


There are two major NINJA villages in Japan. One is KOKA (KOUKA / KOGA) City in SHIGA Prefecture, and the other is IGA City in MIE Prefecture. Most of the records of NINJA are found in either of these two cities. These two cities are located right next to each other over a mountain, which is only 20 to 30km away and half-day trip even on foot. NINJA is mainly divided into 2 schools, one is called KOKA NINJA and the other is IGA NINJA.


What’s your impression of NINJA?


This time, I’ve decided to visit KOKA.


KOKA NINJA was pharmacy!?


Actually there are few record of KOKA NINJA and its history is still unclear. However, some records which were found in 2000’s revealed that KOKA NINJA actually existed in Edo Period. The records say that KOKA NINJA lived under cover of the common people such as farmers, disguised themselves as pedlars selling medicines. They visited all over Japan as pharmacy and explored the confidential information of other regions. Once the orders were given, they joined battles as warriors and conducted various missions in the battlefield. Especially, KOKA NINJA had expertise of medicines and they utilized medicines in the battle as well. This history is one of the reasons why there are still a lot of pharmaceutical companies in KOKA City even now. In addition, another feature of KOKA NINJA is they didn’t have female NINJA called KUNOICHI.




Thatched-roofed ONSEN hotel in KOKA.


KOKA City is well known not only for NINJA, but also this place is where Japanese Emperor in 700s built SHIGARAKI-no-MIYA, a Imperial villa. Also, TSUCHIYAMA-SHUKU and MIZUGUCHI-SHUKU, two of Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road prospered in Edo Period are also located in this KOKA City. It’s surrounded by plentiful nature.


MIYANO ONSEN has enjoyed miraculous ONSEN springing out here over 100 years. KOKA SHINOBI-no-YADO MIYANO ONSEN is one and only hotel where you can enjoy this MIYANO ONSEN.

*SHINOBI in Japanese means NINJA.


What jumps out to your sight is an old building which has Japanese traditional thatched roof on the right hand side of this hotel. This KOMINKA (Japanese old house) is where the owner’s family is living. Another building which is in front is where the guests can stay. There are 3 rooms with private open-air bath, 1 maisonette villa, and several simple Japanese rooms. These simple Japanese rooms are the most reasonable and they are like Japanese traditional guest house MINSHUKU without private bath and toilet in the room.





Although this ONSEN hotel has a long history, interior is very clean and at the same time, it’s felt like somewhere nostalgic as if you visited your grand parents’ house. In addition to that, at the moment you go inside the hotel entrance, you will feel the pleasant smell of Japanese TATAMI and OKO (Japanese incense) which makes you fully relaxed and peaceful. While it’s felt like coming back home, but at the same time, it’s also felt like putting yourself straight as if you come inside Japanese tea-ceremony room. Corridor is made of TATAMI and it’s barrier-free design.






MIYANO ONSEN – miraculous ONSEN springing out in a village of NINJA.


There are two large public bathes in this hotel. One is SASUKE-no-YU for men and the other is KUNOICHI-no-YU for women. Both of them have a big wooden bathtub inside as well as open-air bath which is made from SHIGARAKI-YAKI (SHIGARAKI Ware). SHGARAKI-YAKI is pottery or stoneware made in SHIGARAKI area and it’s one of the most famous area of pottery in Japan.

*SASUKE (SARUTOBI SASUKE) is the name of legendary NINJA.

*KUNOICHI is the general word meaning female NINJA.


In addition to that, there is also a rental private bath as well.


The spring quality of MIYANO ONSEN is sodium chloride spring and pH7.7 neutral. Neutral spring is gentle on the skin as it’s close to skin’s pH. Sodium chloride spring has an effect to cover your skin and it has moisturing effect as it contains salt a lot. The spring source temperature is 14℃, thus it’s heated up. It’s a gentle, colorless and transparent ONSEN.


When you stay at the ONSEN hotel which has open-air bath, I strongly recommend to take a bath in the early morning. Enjoying open-air bath with feeling morning sunlight, climate, outside view makes you fully refresh and you can start your day quite energetically. In this hotel, the bath opens from 6:00 am to 9:00 am in the morning, and from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm in the afternoon and evening.


Even if you don’t stay one night, they welcome day trip as well.







Breakfast is too delicious!!


This time I’ve stayed one night only with breakfast, but the next time I’ll stay here, I’ll definitely want to have dinner as well. That’s because breakfast here was too delicious!


I can imagine that for dinner, fabulous Japanese cuisine with a lot of local specialties such as OMI Beef (one of the highest ranked WAGYU beef in Japan) and local vegetables together with local SAKE will be served. On the other hand, the breakfast I had was not that fabulous, but it was actually more pleasant and quite satisfied. There were so many kinds of SOUZAI (Japanese side dishes) and OBANZAI (Kyoto-style homemade boiled vegetables and marinated foods) served. A lot of dishes but small portion for each. That’s why you can enjoy eating so many varieties. Seemed like my body and soul were fully fulfilled with these heart warming dishes which made me feel at home.


Breakfast is served at the private dining room at the annex where you can reach through corridor from the main lobby. Green view of the garden you can see from this private dining room is also quite nicely peaceful.


Breakfast served at big sized ONSEN hotels is usually buffet style, and the one at traditional ONSEN RYOKAN (hotel) is usually served at a great dining hall where all guest gather. Although those breakfast are also hand-made by someone but sometimes it doesn’t feel the warmth of the person who cooks it. On the other hand, the breakfast served here made me feel the warmth of the person who cooks this so much, and it also made me happier.




Take a walk around the garden and nearby rice field after breakfast.


There’s a Japanese garden at the left hand side of this hotel which is small but plentiful green. It’s also visible from the corridor when you go to take a bath. Many kinds of trees and flowers are there and it’s totally relaxing. Feeling good to enjoy this view for a while after breakfast.


Also, this hotel is surrounded by rice fields. Depending on the season, you can enjoy a nostalgic chorus of frogs at night and beautiful chirping of small birds in the morning. You might be able to enjoy calm sunset and shining starts in the night sky.


If you are interested in this village of NINJA, I recommend to have a peaceful stay in this ONSEN hotel.







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