To help foster an appreciation of the glorious history around us we have encouraged a fascination with ... NINJAS! Of course the Lego Ninjago series helps encourage this fascination too. We've checked out wikipedia, the library and got a book. Now we needed to visit the place where it all began- Iga and Koka. These were rival ninja towns between Kyoto and Nagoya- they are each about a day trip away. It might be tough to do both in a day unless you get out really early in the day- never our strong point. We chose to hit the closest- Koka. The selling point for us was the ninja obstacle course at Ninjutsu mura. It was a blast! Highly recommended. We went to the throwing star range (Y300 for 8 stars). Got a tour of a ninja hideout with secret passages and traps. The kids all did the obstacle course-climbing castle walls, sneaking along walls, escaping down wells, and crossing moats (Okay I did too- hey, it looked too fun). Accomplishing these feats earned them each their ninja licenses. It was a bit confusing at first, in part because the ninja village is designed so that you can never get a sense of the entire place to confuse enemies. Plus all the signs are in Japanese. I would recommend just exploring and seeing what you find. The guided tour of the obstacle course was called "Ninja Dojo" and they announced it over the loudspeaker. If you hear something over the loudspeaker go to the gift shop area to meet the group and just do what everyone else does. The ninja hideout house (Karakuri ninja yashiki) was also with a guided tour- the house is just uphill from the gift shop to the left of the giant hand statue. They do regular tours there so just look for a group.
The gift shop was a major draw too. E got a throwing star, J got a ninja Hello Kitty, and S got a squeaky sword.
Rental ninja outfits for the day: Adults Y1000 kids Y600. Available opposite the gift shop. We didn't do this, but it would have been fun for the kids- maybe next time.
Call from the Koka station (JR Kusatsu line) for a free shuttle. Cabs would work too.