Ninjas and Haiku – Iga Ueno has it all
The sleepy provincial town of Iga Ueno has two main features which bring together two very different types of people: Ninja fans and Haiku poets.
UPDATE: During the annual Ninja festival from April 1 – May 6 you can get a free ride on the trains if you’re dressed as a Ninja! (more info)
There is a small museum, an original Ninja house which has all of the special trapdoors, hidey places and secret passages you’d expect as well as demonstrators who kindly give you explanations in English via pull down menus!
You can hire a ninja costume if you like and prance about (color coded blue for boys, red for girls), and watch a ninja show which demonstrates the ninja weapons like swords and shirikens or throwing stars – you can even have a go yourself after the show and chuck a couple of them (but only at a wall).
The museum is small but has a decent amount of information in English. You can see original weapons such as egg bombs, special lamps and encryption systems used to transmit messages. Pretty cool stuff!
The house is fairly small but inside has a collection of his family’s possessions and a small hut out back which is where he used to compose. The outside of the house looks like it’s been renovated but inside remains somewhat untouched.
There are also a couple of associated museums and you can get a discount ticket at any of them to all three. The museums hold some of his original writings and other bits of his collections.
Iga Ueno is not so easy to reach by public transport. The easiest way is from Nara, which has direct trains on the JR Kasuga line, or from Nagoya on the same line. You may also have to change at Kamo onto a diesel powered local one carriage special.
You can also get trains from Kyoto and Osaka on the JR lines but need a couple of changes. You can get to Nara from Osaka on the Kintesu line out of Namba.
1) Take the JR Nara Line from Kyoto to Kizu (35 minutes by rapid train)
2) Take the JR Kansai Line from Kizu to Kamo (5 minutes)
3) Continue along the JR Kansai Line from Kamo to Iga-Ueno (35 minutes)
4) Take the Kintetsu Iga Line from Iga-Ueno to Ueno-shi (5 minutes)
1) Kintestu Kansai line from Namba to Nara.
2) Arrive at Nara, walk about 15 minutes to the JR station.
3) As 2 above.
Once you get to the JR station in Iga you can take the bus or taxi into town or change and take the Kintestu line to the Ueno Shi station.