On my visit to the town of Iga, the Ninja Town in Japan, we walked across the street from the Ninja Museum and found a path of trees that took us to another special place in that town: the Iga Ueno Castle.
The Iga Ueno castle was first built in 1585, destroyed in a storm in 1612 while under construction and the present castle was completed in 1935. The stone walls are about 30 meters high, one of the highest in Japan.
Even before entering the castle you get lost on the architecture and details of the building.
But when I stepped in to take my shoes off (something you must do to go inside), I took a glance of what I consider one of my favorite pieces of art: Samurai armors.
My admiration for the Samurai is not only because of their history, but the extensive physical training (sometimes dying while training) and their spiritual discipline. The Samurai were trained to be warriors and protected their lord and their clan. But besides being ready fight, they tended their gardens ,wrote poems and meditated. They had to be polite, honest and self- disciplined.
The early Samurai armor was carefully crafted made of small plates of metal bound together with cords of silk or leather.They were laced together into rows to make a flexible defense to protect the body.
They also have another armor style from a later period with large metal plates.
We saw several helmets (kabuto).
Masks to protect the faces.
And nodowa, a guard to protect the throat.
They display some of their weapons, too.
There was even a taiko drum, which were also carried to battles.
And we could see the details on the construction. It was made in the style of all Japanese castles were made called sashimono, a woodwork technique that does not use any nails.
The ceiling is also covered in beautiful paintings.
And even the rooftop is a work of art.
I miss the town of Iga, the mountains and the rice fields. It was such an inspiring journey, I really hope we can go back again, soon.