Japan · Uncategorized

Ninja Museum and Ueno Castle!

Originally published on 3 July 2006. This post is part of a series of “e-mails to home” from my first ever trip abroad to teach English in Japan!

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Hey there! I hope everyone’s had a good weekend and you’re all looking forward to July 4th! Eat something grilled and watch the fireworks for me!

Yesterday’s escapade was lots of fun! Mami picked Anna and me up about 10, and we picked up another friend of hers in Futami. She was very nice and spoke English very well. I think Mami is a bit self-conscious about her English speaking skills, but Anna and I don’t mind! It was nice to have an interpreter just in case, though. The Ninja museum is in Ueno, which is in Mie prefecture like Ise is, but it’s about 2 hours away.

When we got to Ueno, we bought the special ticket to get a discount for seeing the Ninja museum, Ueno Castle, and the Ueno Museum. First stop: Ninjas! Did anyone else not know there were women ninjas? There were. No ninja turtles, though. There was a “prop” house we walked through, and a woman ninja showed us some of the cool hiding places and tricks they used. There was a wall that turned in a full circle, a “shelf” that was actually a ladder, a secret escape door, a hidden sword in the floor, a hideout under the family shrine, and other neat places where they used to hide things!

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That is not a shelf!

Next was the show. We got to see a battle, a sword demonstration, and a guy also threw three ninja stars into a wall at once! That was pretty impressive.

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Battle ensued
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The “chopping block”

Moving on, we went to the museum. They had smoke bombs, firecrackers, ninja clothes (which they didn’t wear all that often; they usually wore dark blue “farm clothes”), and other artifacts on display. This is the only museum I’ve been to so far where everything was written in Japanese and English with the displays, so I took full advantage of being able to read it!

Time to move on to Ueno Castle, or Ueno-jo.

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Ueno is a small city, so the castle wasn’t quite as big as the ones in larger cities, but they had some pretty things and some samurai stuff on display, too! The thing I thought was greatest was the fact that it has a moat! What’s a castle without a moat, right?

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The moat!
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Samurai helmet. How would you like to walk around with wings on your head?

It was a beautiful day and the view from the castle was amazing. They had the windows open on the top floor, so it felt great up there! The breeze was blowing in, we were walking around in our socks (no shoes inside!, and we were surrounded by all this old, historically significant stuff. I really enjoyed being up there.

So after the Castle, we made our way down the mountain (yes, the Castle was on top of a small mountain. How romantic, huh?) to our last stop: the Ueno museum. None of us really knew what it was all about until we got there, and apparently Ueno is really famous for its festivals. And then the fun REALLY began… we got to dress up as ninjas!

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So after we played around and had our fun, we headed back to Ise. The Kodas gave us some money to go to a fancy Japanese buffet! We had a long wait, but the food was really good!

We got back to the apartment around 8:45 or so. I went to bed about 9:45 and here I am now. It was a fun weekend, and with less than a month to go, I can see the light at the end of the work tunnel! Check back for more. I hope everyone has a good day! I love and miss y’all. Thank you for the e-mails, thoughts, and especially prayers!

Love, Whit

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