JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.

Image search results - "iga-ueno"
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Iga-Ueno Castle is one of three major tourist attractions in the city of Iga. It is a short walk from Ueno-shi Station on the Kintetsu Iga Line.
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Stone marker for Ueno Castle located in Ueno Park. Officially called Ueno Castle and nicknamed Hakuho Castle or Iga-Ueno Castle. Noted for cherry blossoms in April and the highest castle walls in Japan.
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Iga-Ueno Castle was first built by Takigawa Katsutoshi, a vassal of Kitabatake Nobuaki (Oda Nobuo, Nobunaga's second son). In 1585, Tsutsui Sadatsugu took over. initiated construction of Iga Ueno Castle in 1585. He was followed by Tsutsui Sadatsugu
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They are still excavating a few areas of the castle for historical remains. I visited in April 2009.
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In 1611, Todo Takatora took over Ueno Castle. Iga-Ueno Castle is also a major cherry blossom spot in early April.
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Iga-Ueno Castle and cherry blossoms, Mie Prefecture.
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Iga-Ueno Castle and cherry blossoms, Mie Prefecture.
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Iga-Ueno Castle and cherry blossoms, Mie Prefecture. During the Meiji Restoration, Ueno Castle's structures were dismantled as with many other castles.
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Iga-Ueno Castle's donjon or tenshu tower was reconstructed in 1935 by Kawasaki Katsu, a local politician, using his own funds.
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Iga-Ueno Castle and cherry blossoms, Mie Prefecture.
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In 1980, Ueno Castle served as a backdrop for Kurosawa Akira's movie, Kagemusha.
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Inside the castle tower is the Iga Museum of Culture and Industry. This is the first floor.
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Todo Takatora was originally from Omi or neighboring Shiga Prefecture.
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Todo Takatora's helmet
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Samurai armor
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Bust of Kawasaki Katsu.
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Top floor
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View from atop Iga-Ueno Castle.
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View from atop Iga-Ueno Castle, looking toward Ueno-shi Station.
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Park area above the castle wall.
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You could jump off into the moat below. No fences, so watch your kids.
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Edge of castle wall.
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One of the tallest castle walls in Japan.
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Hiroshige's woodblock print of Iga-Ueno from his "Famous Views of the 60 Provinces" series. The castle can be seen in the distance.
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Iga Ueno Danjiri Museum
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Inside Iga Ueno Danjiri Museum.
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Ueno-shi Station
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Ueno-shi Station has ninja dolls to greet you.
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Even the trains have a ninja (female) paint job.
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Ninja paint job on a train.
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Iga-Ueno really plays up its ninja past.
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Iga-ryu Ninja House is in Ueno Park which includes Iga-Ueno Castle nearby.
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Iga-ryu Ninja House is a thatched-roof house whose roof once caught fire in the 1990s. It was rebuilt.
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Iga-ryu Ninja House garden. They take you in groups, so you may have to wait a while before you can go in.
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Once a group gets large enough, they take you all in and a female ninja guide explains the house's ninja trickery. Admission charged. Recommended is the set of tickets that admit you to the ninja house, castle, and Danjiri Museum.
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The first demo is this swinging wall.
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Lets you escape to the next room instantly, or climb up or down the ladder on the right wall.
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This is a staircase concealed as a shelf.
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Now a shelf. It leads to the attic.
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Another wall door that leads to the basement tunnel.
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Entrance to the basement.
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Another swinging wall door.
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Inside the Iga-ryu Ninja House.
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Emergency escape hatch whose lock can be quickly released with a sheet of paper.
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There she goes.
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Hidden floor compartment where they hid their valuables outside the house.
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When you push in the end of this floor plank, it opens up to reveal a sword.
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Sword hidden in the floor.
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Kunoichi female ninja guide
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Inside the Iga-ryu Ninja House
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An altar in the Iga-ryu Ninja House.
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Kitchen area in Iga-ryu Ninja House.
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Kitchen in Iga-ryu Ninja House.
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Ninjas in the kitchen. We could not go up into the attic as we can in Koka's ninja house in Shiga.
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Kitchen
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Thatched-roof of Iga-ryu Ninja House.
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Veranda of Iga-ryu Ninja House
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Revolving door of Iga-ryu Ninja House
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Iga-ryu Ninja Museum
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Ninja disguises
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Lock picks
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Flipper-like clogs to walk through swamps
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What would a ninja museum be without a display of shuriken?
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Ninja swords are short and straight with no curvature.
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For an extra 200 yen, you can watch the ninja show right next to the ninja house.
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Iga-ryu Ninja House ninja show.
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Sword demo
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Shuruken takes skill to throw.
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Juggling sickles. Having a sickle did not arouse suspicion as it was a common farming tool. But for the ninja, it was an effective weapon.
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Throwing sickles and shuriken.
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Duel to the death.
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You have to applaud once in a while.
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Shuriken throwing.
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Nakayama Emiri, a TV personality, tries to throw shuriken.
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Another ninja museum.
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Inside ninja museum which is in a former rice warehouse.
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Making medicine.
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Ninja costumes
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Five-colored rice grains used for secret communication.
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Five-colored rice grains used for secret communication.
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More secret ninja language.
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Rope knots hung on roof eaves, etc., were also used for communication.
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Ninja swords.
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Iron claws
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Bamboo sticks concealing a sword.
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Pepper bombs to blind you.
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Cushion
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Iga-Ueno Ninja Festa poster
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During April and early May, they hold the annual ninja festa.
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See many people wearing ninja costumes during the ninja festa.
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Where you can rent a ninja costume.
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Ninjas under cherry blossoms.
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Female ninja
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Female ninja climbing over a wall.
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Even ninja get thirsty.
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Ninja shop
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Ninja doll on a pole.
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Everywhere you go in Iga-Ueno, you see a ninja motif.
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Storefront shutter with ninja drawings.
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Iga-Ueno is very successful in promoting its ninja past and drawing tourists. Also see the Koga-ryu Ninja House in Shiga.
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Iga-Ueno's Ueno Park includes this beautiful building called the Haisei-den (俳聖殿), a hall dedicated to Haiku poet Matsuo Basho who was from Iga-Ueno.
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A short walk from Iga-Ueno Castle and almost next to the ninja house, the Haisei-den was built in 1942 to mark the 300th anniversary of Basho's birth.
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The building was designed by architect Ito Chota (1867-1954) (伊東 忠太) who designed numerous shrine and temple buildings in the 1920s and '30s, including Tsukiji Hongwanji temple in Tokyo.
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The Haisei-den was designed to look like Basho in travel clothing. The top roof resembles a hat, and the lower roof resembles his straw raincoat. Cherry blossoms were in bloom.
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Haisei-den and wisteria in bloom. The Basho Matsuri Festival is a poetry reading held here on Oct. 12.
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Inside the Haisei-den is a ceramic statue of Basho.
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Iga-yaki ceramic statue of Basho inside the Haisei-den.
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A short walk from Ueno Park is the Basho Oseika (芭蕉翁生家) or Basho's childhood home. Iga is the birthplace of Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), and the house where he grew up in still stands.
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The house is open to the public as a tourist attraction (admission 300 yen). The house was rebuilt after it being damaged by a large earthquake in 1854.
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Room inside Basho's childhood home.
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Small door to the kitchen. People must have been pretty short then.
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Kitchen area with a well on the left and stoves toward the right.
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Water well
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Kitchen stoves
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Toilets and bath
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Urinal
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The back of the house is Basho's study called Chogetsuken (釣月軒) where he wrote the Kai-ooi (貝おほい) series of poems.
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Inside the Chogetsuken study. 釣月軒
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The study is a very simple, yet aesthetic and meditative-looking room.
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Statue of Basho at Ueno-shi Station.
   
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