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  • Visit the birthplace of ninjas in Iga, Japan

    2010-03-16

    When pressed to name something Japanese, near the top of many Westerners' lists are ninjas. The stealthy covert agents have become immensely popular over the years due to their seeming omnipresence in film, print and video games involving the East. Travelers heading to Japan can get a first-hand education on all things ninja in the Japanese city of Iga.

    Also known as Iga-Ueno, Iga is a recently incorporated city in Japan's Mie province. The city has become synonymous with ninjas thanks to one of its most famous residents Hattori Hanzo. Hanzo was a Samurai warrior noted for his fighting skills and continued success on the battlefield, who is widely considered to be the father of ninjutsu.

    Several sites around the city celebrate this storied heritage including the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum, which includes ancient writings, ninja tools and weapons, and Iga Ueno Castle, a frequent target of ninja assassins and arsonists.

    The city also hosts the annual Iga Ueno Ninja Festa, a five-week festival beginning in April that features ninjutsu performances, competitions and educational workshops.

    Travelers seeking a full education on ninjas might also enjoy visiting Iga's ninja rivals in the city of Koka in the Shiga prefecture.

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