Japan : Travel guide – Todai-ji, Iga-ryu Ninja House, SCMAGLEV & Railway Park

Autumn 2015.

Sponsor : JNTO

Four days after I got back from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Tokyo, I was on the plane again heading back to Japan, this time to Chubu. A sponsorship by JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organization).



Deer outside the gate at the compound of Todai-ji.

Todai-ji was built during the Nara period of between 710-794AD and is now listed as a national treasure of Japan. It was early autumn and the weather was just perfect – clear blue skies with cool breeze. The temple grounds were really busy as there were a lot of elementary and junior high school students on their school trips. We did not stay long as the places on today’s itinerary are far apart from each other.




Japanese high school girls







Click the map above for Google map location

I was really excited bout the next stop, which was the Iga-ryu Ninja House in Iga City. I’ve always wanted to visit this place and finally I could tick this off my bucket list.



Ninjas are actually spies and assassins during the feudal period when many civil wars ware taking place. The name ‘ninja’ is derived from the martial art called Ninjitsu. Ninjitsu focuses not on the force of arms, but rather on their technique of stealth, intellectual solutions to combat, and the use of psychology and parapsychology to manipulate the enemy’s perception. And no, ninjas don’t just disappear like what the movies portray. They are very skillful in manipulating your perception, utilizing distractions and stealth. Ninjitsu has always been thought to have originated from Japan but historical facts proved otherwise. It can be traced as far back as 4000BC and this brand of spirituality was exported from India via China, then Korea, eventually reaching Japan, as early as the 6th century. Since then it has then been refined and developed into the military discipline that is known today. Throughout the history of Japan, there were many ninjitsu schools being developed but only two are considered the best in this field, the Iga-Ryu from Iga city in Mie prefecture and Koga-Ryu from Shiga prefecture.


This particular ninja residence was moved here in 1964 from it’s original location in the Takayama area of Euno city. Iga is considered the birthplace of the Iga-Ryu Ninjitsu and is home to the finest collection of ninja artifacts in the world. This village has four sections; Ninja Residence, House of Ninja’s Art, House of Ninja Tradition and the Ninja demonstration zone.

After a brief introduction, I was guided to the House of Ninja Art. This is where they house all the tools and weapons used by the Ninjas. There were approximately 400 items here, including authentic shuriken. Shuriken are the throwing stars and knifes of the Ninjas. This exhibit also details the methods used to enter and exit castles without being detected.







The House of Ninja Tradition exhibits the art of ninjitsu, techniques, the science behind them and some explanation from ancient documents.






The Ninja house looks like an ordinary farm house on the outside, but in fact, it is riddled with traps, revolving walls, trick doors, underground passages, secret compartments, and rooms equipped with hidden weapons in case of a surprise attack. It’s amazing how creative they were in their designs and engineering.


 A guide demonstrating how a hidden steps are opened to allow access to a secret observation deck. Can you spot a ninja?


 Secret wooden floor compartment where ninja katana are hidden.

Photos from the Ninjitsu demonstration :



Demonstrating how a ninja’s katana can be used as an aid for climbing up a wall.


Demonstration on how ninjas use their katana and scabbard to aid them in navigating a moonless night.


A ninja master demonstrating the use of shuriken.


Shuriken on it’s target.





That’s me posing with the ninjas.

Entrance fee :

Adult : JPY 700

Children : JPY 400

Website : iganinja.jp

Click the map above for Google map location



Our last stop for the day is the SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya. Japan is well-known for it’s advanced railway network and technology. This park is a railway museum where you get to see a huge collection of railway rolling stock as well as train driving simulator, learning and experience room, superconducting Maglev (Superconducting Magnetically Levitated Vehicle) room, railway systems learning zone and even Shinkansen train driving simulator. They have a collection of trains dating as far back as 1921 to the latest Series 700 Shinkansen prototype.


 Class 995 Series 300X (left) and the latest prototype series that is still under development and testing (right).


 C62 old school locomotive


 E5 series (left most)


200 series (left). In service from 1982 – 2013.

  “0” series (right most). In service from 1964 – 2008.


 The “0” series from the 1964.


 Inside the “0” series.


 The kitchen


The dining area


The dining table


 The menu. Shinkansen after the “0” series are not equipped with dining facilities anymore as the train speed is too fast so there is not enough time for the food to be prepared, served and for passengers to finish it before arriving at their destination.



 This is Doctor Yellow.

Doctor Yellow is the nick name given to the specialty train used on passenger railway track for inspections. It is specially equipped with equipment for testing and monitoring the track and the overhead wires.






 From left to right : 700 series, 200 series, 300 series, 0 series




Click the map above for Google map location

Website : museum.jr-central.co.jp/en/

For more information on shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) you can read about them HERE.



When you are in Nagoya, you definitely must try their famous tebasaki (Japanese style deep fried chicken). And here we are, dinner at one of the famous tebasaki restaurant called Torikai Sohonten.










 Red bean dessert


 Torikai Sohonten is the name of the restaurant


Click the map above for Google map location




 Huge pachinko center



Continue to part 2 of this journey

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