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  • Writer's picture Japan Culture Guide

Iga, the home of the NINJA. Walking the streets of comfortable little Kyoto

Theme: NINJA, little Kyoto, Ceramics

1. Overview

Iga City, Mie Prefecture, is introduced as a place to visit where you can avoid the crowds and enjoy Japanese culture leisurely. This city, adjacent to Kyoto and Nara, has long flourished as a transportation hub and is known as one of the "little Kyoto" cities, surrounded by mountains and with well-preserved beautiful old townscapes. It is conveniently accessible by JR Kansai Line, Kintetsu Line, or a direct bus from Nagoya.

Iga is famous for having produced many Ninjas. Initially, a Ninja was a spy engaged in information-seeking and special missions, but later, "NINJA," a fictionalized version of the Ninja heroes with superhuman magical powers, became popular worldwide. The town has various Ninja-related facilities, allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the land of the Ninja fully. Iga has also been known for its pottery, Iga-yaki, since the Middle Ages. Many tea masters love robust and well-designed tea ceramics made from high-quality clay. The pottery village, located in the mountains, is a place that gives visitors a sense of peace and relaxation.

2. Must-see spots

Ninja in black costume
Iga NINJA with a shuriken

1) Iga-style NINJA museum

Iga-mono (Iga person) is a synonym for Ninja. In addition to espionage, the Ninja were excellent with special weapons such as firearms and shurikens. The NINJA Museum, located in Ueno Park, where Iga-Ueno Castle stands towering over, is where visitors can learn about the Ninja's skills. Visitors can experience various tricks in the Ninja mansion and enjoy a demonstration show of Ninja techniques. You can even change into a Ninja costume.

Traditional temple town
Iga-Ueno temple town cityscape

2) Iga-Ueno townscape (Little Kyoto)

Towns with beautiful old landscapes are called "Little Kyoto," and Iga is one of them. Even today, the town layout from the Edo period (1603-1867), when it was a castle town, remains, with wooden townhouses, temples, and samurai residences reflecting the atmosphere of those days. The area, where the tea ceremony flourished, has many traditional Japanese confectionery stores, and stopping at such stores is one of the pleasures of walking around the town.

cafe tables and potteries
Iga Pottery rest area

3) Iga-yaki ceramics

Iga-yaki is characterized by using high-quality clay suitable for making pottery, which is hardened and baked at high temperatures. Studios are clustered in the mountains on the city's outskirts, where visitors can try their hand at making pottery and purchase items of their choice at the studios or at the industrial hall. With Japan's largest climbing kiln designated as a tangible cultural property, a historical museum, and a rest area where visitors can take home Iga-yaki tea bowls, it is a place where visitors can enjoy themselves in various ways.

3. Access

1. Iga train Uenoshi station via Iga-Ueno station on the Kansai line from Nagoya or Kyoto (about 2 hrs)

2. Iga train Uenoshi station via Iga-Kanbe station on the Kintetsu line from Nagoya (about 2 hrs & 40 min)

3. Uenoshi station by Highway bus from Nagoya (about 1 hr & 40 min)

When you visit Iga-City, it is strongly recommended that you go with an experienced tour guide to learn more about the history and culture.

If you want a private guide, please click the button below and fill in an inquiry form.



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