All About Japan

3 Ninja Spots in Nagano

| Ninja , Nagano

In February 2016, Nagano Prefecture was voted the prefecture most Japanese people would like to move to, and it's easy to see why. With pristine mountains, natural landscapes, delicious food and close proximity to Tokyo, it's also home to these three popular ninja spots!

3. Ueda Castle Ruins

Ueda Castle, located in eastern Nagano and only a 10-minute walk from the Ueda Shinkansen stop, was the original home of the famous Sanada Clan, who are the subjects of the 2016 NHK Taiga drama Sanada Maru. The castle was originally built in 1583 and features impressive stonework and turrets that are designated Prefectural Treasures.

Ueda Castle is famous for twice repelling the attacks of the Tokugawa Shogunate, first in 1595 and again in 1600. While no ninja were present at the castle at the time, the castle's defenses and Sanada’s smaller army of samurai were ninja-like in their resistance. A well on the nearby temple grounds is said to have hidden a secret passage connecting to the castle, and nowadays you can take photos with local guides dressed as samurai and ninja.

2. Kids' Ninja Village (Chibiko Ninja Mura)

The Togakushi area of Nagano City is the legendary home of the Togakure School of Ninja, which served various espionage roles during Japan’s Warring States Period (1467-1603). The Kids' Ninja Village, located in the Togakushi area of Nagano City, is a small theme park focused on ninja-related, hands-on attractions and events.

The village is set within a forest and offers visitors the opportunity to dress in ninja costume and attempt various obstacle courses and jungle gyms, including a suspension bridge, tree climbing, pond crossing, and many others.

1. Togakure Ninpo Museum

The Togakure Ninpo Museum, located in the forested mountains northwest of Nagano City, is dedicated to the Nagano's Togakure School of Ninja. Local legend claims the school was founded by Nishina Daisuke, a samurai in the late 12th century. The warrior was on the losing side of a decisive clan war and fled to Iga in Mie Prefecture, the traditional home of ninja in Japan. There he learned his ninja skills before returning home to Nagano to start his own ninja school.

The Togakure Ninpo Museum features a variety of displays showcasing ninja weapons, tools, spy items, scrolls and books. Also on the grounds is a ninja trick house and a shuriken school to experience.