The small town of Iga-Ueno, 50 kilometres east of Osaka, was for centuries one of the top strongholds of Japan’s famous Ninja.
The Ninja, as we all know, were the masters of stealth and the arts of espionage and sabotage. But unlike as we think of them today as mainly assassins, back in the day they were more like spies.
During the Era of the Warring States in the 15th and 16th centuries, based in hundreds of castles like thie one in Iga-Ueno, warlords all across Japan fought each other for supremacy.
The honour of the warlords’ samurai warriors meant that they had to go into battle openly, so if a vital but secret mission needed to be undertaken, Ninja were hired as paid mercenaries to carry out their dark arts.
During the Era of the Warring States, the Ninja in Iga-Ueno were renowned as some of the finest anywhere in Japan.
This typical Ninja house near the castle, where some of the Ninja lived, has numerous escape routes, hidden doors, traps and trickery to confuse any potential enemies that might have come to attack them.
Unsurprisingly, , performers nowadays re enact these dark arts a hugely popular tourist shows which regularly take place here
Amongst the ninjas’ many famous weapons were throwing stars called shuriken that were said to be often tipped with poison.
The ninja’s skills were so legendary it was said they could walk on water.