Ninja Month: Saga Ninja Village Hizen Yumekaido
Updated: Mar 16
Have you ever dreamed of being a ninja? Have you wanted to see a region of Japan that is not so often visited? Well, there is a Ninja Village amusement park in Saga! And in case you needed additional conviction that it is a fun place to go, the area is called "Ureshino" which literally means "Joy Park"! And since the park says February is Ninja Month, this seems like a very good time to talk about this place. The Ninja Village promises an experience of the Edo period of Japanese History, which spanned around the 1660s to the 1800s. So I decided to find another video showing the entire park and some of the surrounds from a drone:
Some of the buildings look a little too new to me, while others seem to have desirably aged rooves. That large mansion, and the clock tower near it particularly look as though they would provide a visitor with a historic sensation. Images on google corroborate that the park is carefully aged to provide a sensation of realism and history.
The footage also reveals that the town nearby is well developed, implying that local accommodation and amenities would not be hard to find. With that in mind, I decided to look at what I feel are the two best accommodation booking websites, Booking.com and AirBNB.com. While there is quality, authentic Japanese accommodation in the immediate area, all of it is somewhat expensive, with just a week costing at least $888. There are cheaper options if you are willing to stay in nearby Arita, which is just over an hour away by public transport. In case this sounds scary to you, I have found that using a combination of Google Maps and Google Translate apps is usually enough to help in most situations, especially if you'll use the "photo" function to read things in Japanese. Failing that, you could catch a taxi, since there seem to be two Taxi companies not far from Arita station. This would halve the time taken to get to the park, but cost notably more. However, staying in Arita will cost potentially less than half of what it does to stay in Ureshino, so it is well worth the money. Especially when you consider how beautiful the accommodations in Arita can be.
These are images of 艸風舎 - Soufusha, taken from AirBNB, 25/2/21. Just a short walk away from Arita Station and less than $350 for a whole week, or less than $300 if you book on Booking.com. And that's for a room to yourself! You don't have to share with anyone if you don't want to! But what is the park itself like? And are there other attractions to enjoy in the region? Well, let's see... As you would expect, many of the activities in the Ninja Park are geared towards children, though adults may participate in some, with the bulk of activities geared towards someone attending in pairs, with prices intended to cover two people entering together:
Naturally, many will want to participate in shuriken or ninja star throwing. But I decided to note a few activities that I thing many will find particularly interesting. Some would complain that some of the features of the park are too contemporary or cheesy. But I think that some features are charmingly camp and creative. (Images borrowed from tabirai.net and nippon-sumizumi-kanko.com)
Karakuri Mugen Mansion
A mystery house that uses various real life special effects to create an environment full of visual confusion, with unexpected surprises. Something like a traditional Japanese fun house! Just 300JPY to enter! The Hell House
A traditional Japanese haunted house, featuring carefully made depictions of Japanese demons from Jigoku, or Japanese hell. I don't recommend taking small children here. Honestly, the images are creeping me out a little, and I'm 32! Just 300JPY to enter!
The park also has street performers wandering around who add to the park's liveliness and realism. They pretend to be wandering salesmen and the like.
Ninja Theatre House
A theatre where you can watch a live Ninja performance that is said to be very intense and energetic. It costs 500JPY.
However, these are simply the exhibits that get seen the most. The truth is that the park is full of interesting things to see, including a genuine Japanese artist in residence, a true calligraphy club, a hall full of historical artefacts, a reproduction of a Samurai Inn, a place where you can experience regional crafts for yourself, a tea house and, of course, a souvenir shop. While there are other historical parks one could visit in Japan, so far, this is the one that has the most exhibits I feel interested in seeing! I will have to find someone I can attend with if I do ever go!
Entry fee is currently 1100JPY for junior high students to Adults. Young children are 600JPY. Some of the park experiences cost money. Others are free to attend. You will also have the option of renting ninja outfits at 1000-1300JPY per person/outfit. The ninja outfit rental may give you better value on weekdays, since, according to the website, some activities become free on those days if you rent an outfit. Perhaps this is to make the park feel more lively and authentic. If you are travelling with children, you may wish to send them to a two hour ninja school, which you need to book the day before and costs 3000JPY. This can be an affordable option if you are wanting a little quiet time to yourself or your partner. Park Address: Japan, 〒843-0302 Saga, Ureshino, Ureshinomachi Oaza Shimono, Ko−716-1 肥前夢街道
Hours: 9am to 4pm on weekdays, weekends and holidays 9am to 5pm. If you would like to attend the park wearing cosplay, you do have that option. If I am understanding the website correctly, they will let you into the park for 100JPY less if you do this, though I may be misreading the page, so please do not quote me on this. This is the original text in Japanese: "衣装持ち込みでのコスプレのロケできます。更衣室もあります。
料金は入園料のみでお一人様1000円（ロケ割100円引き適応後）です。" If kimono does interest you, I run an online store where I sell vintage kimono, accessories for wearing them, an various other items intended to make kimono easier to incorporate into everyday life. I think, at historic locations, kimono make for excellent photographs.
Here is the park website in English:
Landmarks in Arita Since the region is known for pottery and ceramics, there is much to see around town to that effect. There are also beautiful natural landmarks that seem to be lovely all year round.
If it interests you, you may wish to see the Arita Pottery Park, which is modelled to be an exact replica of the Zwinger in Dresden, Germany! It is full of examples of local an international ceramics. Certainly something you would never expect to see in the middle of the Japanese country side! But so beautiful!
(Image borrowed from zekkeijapan.com, 25/2/21) If you would like to see more historic Japanese architecture, you need only travel to the nearby town of Okawachiyama, which is another pottery landmark. In the ancient world they were known to manufacture ceramics for the wealthy ruling class, and continue to guard the secrets of their techniques to this day. The town has a website, albeit in Japanese, which you can view to learn more about their local landmarks;
(Images borrowed from japan-guide.com, 25/2/21. Click to enlarge.) The region also contains two impossibly beautiful onsen hotels; The Ureshino Onsen and the Takeo Onsen.
(Images borrowed from kyushuandtokyo.org, 25/2/21. Click to enlarge.) For those who are wondering, there was once Geisha culture in the region. However, numbers dwindled over time, so there is now an organization of Geisha style performers who have their own website and perform for various events in the region:
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