Iga Ueno Castle
A white-walled castle located in the hometown of the ninja.
Iga City has a storied history of ninjas, and where there are ninjas, there is normally a castle. This town in Mie Prefecture doesn’t disappoint, with Iga Ueno Castle rising above the surrounding landscape so you can see it from all around. The fortress is also known as Hakuho or the White Phoenix Castle for its beautiful architecture and stunning white walls.
Iga Castle construction
Iga Ueno Castle was built in the late 1500s. The city was initially developed under the Tokugawa Shogunate as a castle town. It played an important role at the time and was renovated to expand the walls to an impressive height of 30 meters—one of the tallest castle walls in Japan.
However, in the early 1600s, a heavy storm destroyed the five-layered keep. This coincided with the dissolution of the Toyotomi clan, and castle building was forbidden throughout Japan. A resident of the city-funded reconstruction in 1935 so that the main keep could be rebuilt. Unlike many of Japan’s castles which use concrete, Iga Ueno Castle was reconstructed using wood. This gives the castle a unique look inside and out.
Ninja Museum and seasonal festivals
The surrounding park changes colors throughout the year–spring pinks, summer greens, and autumn oranges all stand out against Iga Ueno Castle’s white backdrop to create a sight that just screams Japan.
A small museum on the castle grounds showcases some of Mie Prefecture’s cultural properties and treasures. A samurai helmet passed down by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of Japan’s most powerful rulers towards the end of the Sengoku period, is one of the highlights.
Danjiri Kaikan is another museum near the castle grounds, this time displaying floats used in Iga’s local festivals. Also nearby is the Ninja Museum of Igaryu, which is as awesome as it sounds.
The park hosts many events, such as a classic Noh performance during Japan’s harvest moon festival in September, and a chrysanthemum exhibition from late October to early November. Various martial arts competitions, concerts, and beyond occur throughout the year. Check the official website for full details and dates.
They might be sneaky but you can find loads more Ninjas in Japan. Click to find out where!