Koga Japan and the Art of Ninjutsu

Koga Japan Travel Tips

Koga Japan Meaning

The word “Koga” means antiquity and classical elegance in Japanese. This is quite an apt description for the city because it is home to one of Japan’s most exquisite and legendary form of martial arts – the ninjutsu. Although ninjutsu techniques seem to be just legend now, there is evidence to prove that it has existed during the earlier Japanese history. In fact, there are books and autobiographies that indicate stories of the last ninjas of Japan.

photo by go.biwako

The place of Koga is beautiful and simple, it is a good place for pilgrimage because of the many sacred sites within the city. There are beaches and cliffsides to be enjoyed. There are museums and well-preserved historical sites that give travelers a glimpse of its elegance and beauty of the city’s culture and history.

Koga Japan Map

This particular city in Japan is located in the Shiga Prefecture and is often confused with Koga of Ibaraki Japan. It is located in the southern area of Japan and is a part of the Kansai region. This part of Japan has a total area of 481 square kilometers and a population of about 89,000. This place is actually quite near to Tokyo which is why travelers who go to the capital can take a short side trip to Koka.

Ninjutsu and its different forms         

Iga Ninjutsu

This kind of ninjutsu technique known as Iga-Ryu is believed to have originated in the province of Iga Japan. This place is now located in the city of Iga in Mie Prefecture. This kind of technique is one of the most legendary techniques of ninjutsu and is often compared to the Koga Ninjutsu techniques.

According to legend, it was in the Nara period when the iga Ninjutsu school was established. There are historical records indicating its presence in the late 1400s. It is believed that the Iga and Koga Ninjas worked for hand in hand to fight against the Shogun when the Rokkaku clan of Iga was being attacked.

The Iga Ninjas are believed to be well-trained in stealth movements which include disguise, concealment and such. They are also great in battle when it comes to unarmed combat. It is believed as well that they have special water-walking shoes called Mizugumo, one that the Koga Ninjas don’t have.

Koga Ninjutsu

Also known as Koga-Ryu is one of the most legendary schools of ninjutsu and is believed to have originated in the province of Koga (also known as Koka) in the Shiga prefecture. Their students are often called Shinobi are known to be well-trained in a lot of trades. Their best skill to date is known as the Taijutsu or techniques in unarmed combat.

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They are often compared to the Iga Ninjutsu because they have slightly different techniques. It was in the Muromachi period when this particular technique of Ninjutsu was established. One of the most important individuals who is known to be Koga ninjas would be a man named Fujita Seiko. According to his autobiography, he is the “last ninja”. It is stated in his autobiography that he intentionally chose not to pass on the school and did not train anyone to become a shinobi.

The Koka Ninjutsu techniques are very similar to the Iga ninjutsu techniques. However, there are a few techniques and teachings which are unique only to either. The Koga ninjas are believed to be very powerful during battle and a number seems to be unbeatable.

Bujinkan Ninjutsu

A more modern form of ninjutsu, the bunkinjan is an international organization for martial arts. They do not necessarily train stealthy ninjas that would work to fight battles in the world. Instead, they teach some ninjutsu techniques as an art. It may be a form of self-defense as well and a lot of soldiers in the world are taught martial arts for unarmed combat.

It was in the 1970s when this organization was established and it was founded by a team of individuals who claim to be experts of ninjutsu. According to their founders, their techniques are combinations of samurai and ninjutsu techniques. They also teach other forms of martial arts such as jiu-jitsu and karate. These are all combined to form what is now known as mixed martial arts. The main idea of the Bunkinjan ninjutsu is to create unity, harmony, and oneness with the team.

Ninjutsu Skills Must Haves

There is a total of 18 skills that must be mastered by any shenobi apprentice and it is only with the mastery of these skills that an individual may be called a ninja. Among these skills would be the Zanshin which is the ability to have clear mental awareness. Common arts or techniques include the bajutsu which is the skill or ability to ride horses. Goton-no-Jutsu which is known to be the five elements or methods of escape. There are also secret killing strikes art and more.

Koga Japan Ninja School: Japan Koga Dojo

The Ninja house, or the Japan Koga Dojo, is a 300-year-old place that has served to be the residence of many of the most powerful ninjas in Japanese times. There are training grounds, traps, mazes, and more found within its perimeters. It is believed that a great number of ninjas spent their lives perfecting the Jutsu art and teachings and they have spent a great deal of time in the walls of the Ninja house.

Places to visit Koga Japan

Miho Museum

Anyone who wishes to visit the Miho Museum of Koka will surely enjoy this place because it is hidden between the lush greenery of the mountains. Cleverly stationed at a deeply forested hill, the Miho museum is surely one of a kind. This particular museum is dedicated to the founder of the museum named Koyama Mihoko who is considered as one of the most powerful women in all of Japan. She is one of the richest young maidens in the entire country.

Generally, the entire museum is modern and futuristic but its designers ensured that it will be sustainable. This means that its construction will not, in any way, affect the surrounding nature. Other than that, it was designed to blend in with the environment. This is why it would seem that the futuristic building seems to be out of place from the area.

This particular museum has a vast collection of historical artifacts, documents, and more. These include artwork from the Greeks, Egyptians, Romance and more. This place could be accessed via the JR Tokaido Line which travels between the Kyoto Station up to the Ishayima station.

Ninja House

The Koka Ninja house is one of the most interesting places to go to in Koga Japan. It is a three-century-old wooden structure believed to have been a training ground for aspiring Ninjas. Upon discovery, it would seem that the ninja house is any normal home. What many don’t know is the fact that the home contains a variety of traps and devices which will trigger the innate ninja in every person. Other than that, these mazes and puzzles are intended for the house’s protection against possible intruders.

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What is even more special about this place is the fact that there are still living ninjas in this region of Japan. While living in the ninja house, these ninjas can teach aspiring students the art of the ninjutsu. This is a bit accessible as it is a 20-minute walk from the Konan Station of the JR Kusatsu line.

Taki Shrine

The Taki Shrine is one of the many sacred places found in the city of Koga. This particular shrine commemorates the deity of speed. It is located at the borderlines of Osaka and Koga. A lot of people go to this place to enjoy the scenery and the architecture. The shrine is old but its age shows how valuable it truly is. On top of that, it also makes the simplistic beauty of the shrine shine and show. Also, a lot of people enjoy walking about its courtyard because a little distance from the shrine is a beautiful waterfall. It is said that it is best to visit the place every fall in the months of October to November because it presents the beauty of falling leaves in the city.

Hata Weeping Cherry

They are called weeping cherry trees because its flowers and leaves swing with the spring breeze and grow in a downward direction. It is a kind of Cherry tree species which is abundant only in the Hata area of Japan. Some of the cherry trees found in the area are actually about 300 to 500 years old. This kind of cherry tree is special only to Hata and its beauty has been a part of Japanese literature for a long time. It usually blooms at the first weeks of April. So anyone wishing to see its beauty must visit the area at this time. It is important to note that since it is quite a unique type of Cherry Tree, a large crowd usually visits the area to see it bloom.

By ひでわく (2012.04.12 入生田 長興山 枝垂れ桜 (cropped and tweaked)) [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.1/jp/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

Shigaraki Station

This particular railway station is a part of the Shigaraki Kogen Railway company’s Shigaraki line. It used to be known as the JR West line which was transferred to the new location in 1987. A lot of visitors go to this particular station because of its age. There is a display of old trains which shows a glimpse of the kind of trains which were used decades ago. There are a lot of shops within the area as well that people enjoy such as restaurants, specialty shops, and souvenir shops.

Minakuchi Castle

This is also known as the Hekisui Castle which is located in Koga or Koka, It was built in the mid-1600s primarily as a rest house than a strategic military location. It is believed that a man named Tokugawa Lemitsu built this castle so that he would have some place to stay during his travels to the Shiga prefecture. Not long after that, the new lord of the castle became a man named Kato Akimoto. Now, the castle is no more and only remains are its ruins. Most of the structure which could be seen in the area are reconstructions for museum purposes.

Koga Village Japan

Also known as the Koka Ninja Village, this place is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area because it is believed that this is where ninjas trained for their profession. It is found in a very remote and rural place up the hills and is found in the middle of the forest.

It was discovered that there are numerous trap doors and hidden places around the village which make it special and safe when there are intruders. Inside the vicinity is a small museum that shows a map of the village along with some artifacts that are believed to be used the ninjas of the past. This place is usually opened between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and the ticket costs about 1030 yen.

Koka Versus Koga

There are actually two places in Japan which are named “Koga” and it is quite easy to get confused between them. Each is found in different regions and prefectures, so anyone who is confused between the two kogas might easily get lost.

The word “Koga” actually refers to a city found in the Ibaraki Prefecture which is located in the Kanto Region of Japan. The other “Koga” is actually a city found in the Shiga Prefecture which is located in the Kansai region of Japan. The two places are very far apart and they can easily be confused with one another. The city found in Shiga prefecture is also known as “Koka” in Japanese, it is pronounced as “Koga” in English.

Not only are the two places very different from each other when it comes to location, they are also very different in terms of size and population. The Koga city in Ibaraki prefecture has a total area of 123 square kilometers with a population of 140,000. On the other hand, the Koka located in Shiga prefecture has a larger area of 480 square kilometers and a smaller population of about 89,000. The land area of Koka became larger by 2004 because the city has absorbed surrounding municipalities.

Koga from Ibaraki is actually a quieter town well known for its nature-related sights. On the other hand, Koka from Shiga prefecture is more famous as an origin of Japanese Ninjas and their techniques.