What is NINJA?


I think the word NINJA is already well known all over the world, but let me briefly explain what NINJA is for those who don’t know it.


NINJA is the general term for the secret agent in ancient Japan who were highly trained in NINJUTSU, the skills of stealth, secrecy, and martial arts. They served DAIMYO (Japanese territorial lord) or feudal lord doing espionage, sabotage, and assassinations etc. In the ancient times, obviously NINJA was whom everybody must be afraid of, but at the present day, it has become perceived to be cool and there are a lot of fans who love NINJA.


Many Japanese people have watched NINJA HATTORI KUN in childhood, which is an old time popular TV anime. Also even now, NINJA often appears at many of Japanese historical dramas and movies. In addition, NINJA appears even in Final Fantasy series, the most popular video game in Japan, as one of the popular characters. Like this, NINJA is loved by a lot of people not only in Japan, but also there are a lot of fans in the world.


There are 2 major NINJA schools in Japan. KOKA NINJA and IGA NINJA. KOKA NINJA used to live in KOKA City, SHIGA Prefecture while IGA NINJA used to live in IGA City, MIE Prefecture. Those 2 cities are located right next to each other over a mountain. Thus, the place around here used to be the hometown of most of NINJA.


I have heard that in KOKA City there is a NINJA house where NINJA actually used to live. There are a lot of amusement facilities related to NINJA, where for example you can take a photo wearing NINJA costume and something like that. However, there is few place where you can see the real house NINJA actually lived. I’ve decided to visit this place.


The house where KOKA NINJA actually lived for a long time.


KOKA NINJA HOUSE is the house where KOKA NINJA family actually lived, and it was built during GENROKU era of Edo Period (1688 ~ 1704). Mochizuki family who used to be the top of KOKA NINJA used to live here. The appearance of this house is a very old and traditional Japanese house (KOMINKA) which has wonderful thatched roof. It is surrounded by trees and rice fields and it is extremely quiet outside.


Some many surprising tricks inside house!!


Although it looks just an old traditional Japanese house, once you go inside, you will be surprised with a lot of tricks equipped inside the house.


First, before entering the house, you will see that the garden of this house is fully graveled. This is because when enemy comes closer to this house, the sound of their footstep on the graveled garden could alert NINJA living inside. Actually when I walked on the garden, the sound of my footstep made a big sound which people inside would notice someone was coming.


Also, when you see this house from outside, it looks a single-storied house. However, once you go inside, it is actually a two-storied house and it also has a big attic above the 2nd story. These are equipped because when enemy comes inside the house, NINJA could hide themselves at the 2nd story and the attic where the enemy would never notice. Also, all the confidential conversation with other NINJA members were done at the 2nd story or the attic so that even in case someone comes in the house, these confidential conversation would never be heard.




This 2nd story becomes visible only when you walk inside the house toward the end. From here, NINJA attacked enemy by jumping onto them from the 2nd story.



The ladder to the 2nd story is hidden inside an OSHIIRE (a kind of Japanese-type closet and storage space) and this ladder was movable and they brought it up and hid once they climbed up to the 2nd story, so that even in case enemy comes in the house and opened this closed, they could not find the way to climb up there.



Another trick is DONDEN GAESHI, which is the secret revolving door. It is inside the closet and usually looks just a wall, but in case NINJA was cornered into the closet by enemy, this wall suddenly turned out to be a revolving door and NINJA could escape from this revolving door to the opposite side. This term “DONDEN GAESHI” originally meant this kind of revolving door, but at the present day this term has another meaning which is the surprising ending or complete reversal ending of the drama / movie.



Another surprising trick is a pitfall trap. When NINJA ran away from the enemy, they made enemy fall into this pitfall which is very deep and no one couldn’t get away from there without help.



The master bed room also has a lot of tricks, though it looks just a normal Japanese TATAMI room. First, the door to enter this room is too heavy and even if enemy cornered NINJA to this room, enemy cannot open the door of this room. Or even though they could open the door, it took several seconds because of its heaviness, and during then, NINJA could escape from this room.


Not just DONDEN GAESHI, this room has some other escaping routes to outside. One of them is it is connected to the under ground tunnel and this tunnel is connected to outside of the house, though this tunnel is shut now. Also they hid a lot of weapons here and there in this room, and they fought against the enemy with using those weapons.



In addition to those tricks, this house has a lot of exhibitions of NINJA related records and items, such as various types of SHURIKEN (a throwing knife which is a representing weapon of NINJA) and other weapons.





Also, it exhibits the items related to medicines and pharmacy, because KOKA NINJA usually pretended to be the pedlars of medicines and visited all over Japan to gather confidential information of other regions. In their daily lives, they pretend to be a kind of pharmacy. This is said to be why there are a lot of pharmaceutical companies operating even now in the place around here.


Why don’t you visit and see the traces of NINJA’s real lives here?


Official website of KOKA NINJA HOUSE


When you stay one night around this NINJA village, the recommended ONSEN hotel is here.

Related article: ONSEN OF NINJA! – MIYANO ONSEN, SHIGA Prefecture




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