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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Iga Ueno Castle

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.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Ninja town Iga.

On my trip to Japan I decided to visit an old friend from Brazil and spend a couple of days in her town. For my surprise and pure coincidence she lives in a place that I always wanted to see: Iga- Ueno. Iga is famous for its School of ninjutsu (art of stealth). It was one of leading ninja schools in Japan.
There is a ninja museum, ninjas around the city and everything ninja related.
This city became one of my favorites because it is not crowded with tourists and the streets remind the old towns in Japan. Everything is so quiet and you hardly see people walking around.

And of course everything is ninja.
Ninja trains.
Ninja manholes.

Ninja signs and posters with ninja events.
Ninja products.
Ninja baby outfits.
Ninja statue.
Ninja restroom.
We found this cafe by accident, it looks more like a store but it has a table in the back where they have nice green tea ice cream and coffee.
Inside we found very cool decoration.

And the best part is that in that cafe lives the ninja cat.
Her name is Chacha and she is very friendly.

There are places all around town to take pictures if you are a ninja fan. It is such a nice place to walk, it is very calm and every couple of blocks you find a shrine or a place to meditate.
The art that you see in the streets has so much detail, the combination with the new and the old.
I am so inspired by this place, I want very much to go back there.

And this are not all the pictures I have from Iga, wait until you see the castle with the samurai armors. Next time.