Koka Ninja House 甲賀流忍術屋敷


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The world's only authentic ninja house still in its original location. Revolving doors, trap doors, and underground tunnels helped the ninja escape or hide from the enemy. They avoided direct combat as much as possible. Called Koka-ryu Ninjutsu Yashiki, this house was the residence of Mochizuki Izumo-no-kami, the leader clan of the Koga ninja. Located in Konan-cho, the former heart of the Koka ninja, popularly called Koga ninja. JR Konan Station on the Kusatsu Line is the closest train station. Special thanks to Takayuki Mochizuki (ninja descendant) for taking me here. Also see my YouTube video here. MAP

67 files, last one added on Mar 27, 2010
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Koka Ninja Village 甲賀の里 忍術村


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Koka, Shiga Prefecture is known historically as a town of the Koga ninja. (Correct pronunciation is "Koka.") As a theme park, the Koka-no-Sato Ninjutsu-mura or Koka Ninja Village offers a good tourist sampling of ninja in a hidden village of former ninja houses transplanted to this "village." MAP

48 files, last one added on Feb 16, 2009
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Minakuchi-juku and Minakuchi Castle 水口宿・水口城


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Following Tsuchiyama-juku, Minakuchi-juku was the fiftieth of the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido Road. The most prominent remnant is Minakuchi Castle. A moat, stone walls, and a reconstructed turret are all that remains. The turret serves as the Minakuchi Castle Museum. The original castle was built in 1634 as a rest place for shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu during his travels to and from Kyoto. But the shogun stayed at the castle only once. It later became the castle of the Minakuchi clan in 1682 headed by Lord Kato Akitomo. The old Tokaido Road in Minakuchi has a few other historical places like Minakuchi Shrine. Short walk from Minakuchi Jonan Station on the Omi Railway Line. MAP

123 files, last one added on Apr 24, 2011
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Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri Festival 水口曳山祭


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Held on April 19-20 in Koka, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, the Minakuchi Hikiyama Festival has ornate Hikiyama floats pulled through town. On the festival eve, the floats are lit up with paper lanterns from 7 pm and Minakuchi-bayashi festival music is played. On the 20th, at 9 am, the floats are paraded through the streets as they head toward Minakuchi Jinja Shrine (near Minakuchi Jonan Station). Portable shrines also make their way to the shrine. During midday, ceremonies are held at the shrine. At 2 pm, a procession of Chigo children and portable shrines leave the shrine. MAP

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Tsuchiyama Saio Princess Procession あいの土山斎王群行


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The Saio princess was an unmarried, young Imperial princess, often the Emperor's daughter, who was appointed (by divination) to be the High Priestess of Ise Grand Shrines in Mie Prefecture from the 7th to 14th centuries. For about 660 years, over 60 Saio princesses served at Ise Grand Shrines. The new Saio princess traveled from Kyoto to her Saiku palace near the Ise Shrine. The journey took 5 nights and 6 days, and passed through Tsuchiyama in Shiga Prefecture. Held on the last Sunday in March, this festival reenacts the Saio Gunko procession in Tsuchiyama to Tarumi Tongu which was one of the five palaces where the Saio lodged along the way. MAP

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Kenketo Matsuri Festival and Odori Dance ケンケト祭・踊り


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Held on May 3 by Takigi Jinja Shrine (龍樹神社) in Tsuchiyama, the Kenketo Odori is a dance performed by eight boys aged 7 to 12. The dance was originally started to ward off calamities. The boys wear tall peacock feathers on their heads. From Kibukawa Station (JR Kusatsu Line and Ohmi Railways), catch the Aikuru Bus and get off at Higashi Maeno. The shrine is a short walk toward the river. Also see my video at YouTube. MAP

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Shigaraki 信楽


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One of Japan's renown and historical centers for pottery, Shigaraki's heart is the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park. A large, pleasant park boasting ceramic art, kilns, and museums. A great time to visit Shigaraki is during the Shigaraki Pottery Festival and Ceramic Art Market in mid-Oct. Shigaraki has a good number of pottery centers and Sotoen (宗陶苑) is major one. I visited for the first time in Aug. 2012. It covers a large ceramic park-like area. Also visited the ancient ruins of Shigaraki Imperial Palace. More about Koka here. MAP

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Tsuchiyama-juku 土山宿


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Tsuchiyama-juku in Tsuchiyama-cho was the forty-ninth of the fifty-three stations of the Tokaido Road, following Sakanoshita-juku in Mie. It is right after Suzuka Pass on the Suzuka mountains, one of the two most difficult sections of the Tokaido. Travelers thus were happy to see Tsuchiyama. Nicknamed "Ai no Tsuchiyama," the town is working hard to preserve its old buildings. The Tsuchiyama-juku Honjin where Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu and Emperor Meiji lodged is still intact and well maintained. The Tsuchiyama Tokaido Museum is also a major attraction. Special thanks to Uno Yoshinobu who was my guide in Tsuchiyama. MAP

113 files, last one added on Apr 24, 2011
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Aburahi Matsuri Festival 油日祭り・奴振り


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Held only once every five years, the Aburahi Festival with the yakko-furi procession was held by Aburahi Shrine in Koka, Shiga Prefecture, Japan on May 1, 2011. The procession features yakko samurai laborers who carry a trunk and sing. Others also dance. The procession makes a circular route near Aburahi and Koka Stations on the JR Kusatsu Line. MAP

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Other sights in Koka-cho


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Photos of other sights in southeastern Koka such as Koka Station's new station building opened in Nov. 2005. It resembles a farmer's warehouse. But what makes it unique are the seven wall murals depicting ninja. The paintings are designed to look three-dimensional and interactive so you can pose within the painting for picture-taking. Also, the Kusuri Gakushukan featuring Koka's history and industry of medicines, and Rakuyaji temple noted for numerous Buddhist statues which are Important Cultural Properties.

60 files, last one added on Jun 26, 2011
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