All About Japan

Sneak Back in Time to a Ninja Village

| Ninja , Saga

Let’s just admit it: we all harbor ninja fantasies. Assuming the role of a stealthy assassin-type, complete with throwing stars, a cool black uniform, and perhaps even some gravity-defying wall running, would be a uniquely appealing way to spend the day!

A number of theme parks in Japan have capitalized on the ninja craze, offering enthralling ways for both children and adults to pursue their inner shadow warrior. A prime representative in Kyushu is Hizen Yume Kaido Ninja Village, located in Ureshino City in Saga Prefecture.

The ninja village transports guests back to the Edo Period (1630-1868), with nary a skyscraper in sight. Visitors can rent ninja costumes and watch live performances of ninja battles in a “trap house” on the weekends. “Real” ninja wander the park as well, performing the tricks and feats of their stealthy trade. One ninja, Tsurugi Genzo, is well-known for his ability to toss an apple in the air, unsheathe his samurai sword, and slice the apple in two—all before the apple hits the ground. In fact, he held a Guinness World Record, having sliced through 28 aerial apples in one minute on July 22, 2012 (only to be beaten by Ashrita Furman, who on November 26 that same year diced 29 apples in New York, a record that still stands today).

The park is home to the Chibikko Ninja Academy, a two-hour ninja-themed class for children. Costumed instructors teach their youthful initiates how to shoot blow darts and throw shuriken, or throwing stars. At the end, the children are treated to a special ninja performance highlighting the skills they learned. Upon successfully completing the class, participants are awarded a ninja certificate. Parents can make reservations online or by phone, which can be found at the theme park homepage linked above (Japanese needed!).

The village also happens to be the headquarters for the Kyushu Ninja Association. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving ninja culture and history through education initiatives and events, many of which are held on-site at Hizen Yume Kaido.

If you’re looking to make a trip out to see the park for yourself, you can visit from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, or from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Access and directions can be found here (in Japanese) or below in English.