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Friday, March 02, 2012

Koga Shiga Prefecture

甲賀

Last May we spent nine days in Shiga Prefecture. With Hikone as our base of operations we took the JR train to see many sights. One day we decided to go to Koga to check out the Ninja Museum. I had seen some exciting ninja activity in two Taiga Dramas in particular, "Musashi" and "Komyo Ga Tsugi."

Koga Shiga Prefecture

As we waited to board the train, an elderly woman asked us where we were going. "To Koga," answered my daughter. The woman responded, "Why?" I should have paused to hear if the crows were cawing, because that woman must have known something we did not.

We arrived in Koga at a tiny station. We had to take our tickets up to a window where a lone worker sat quietly. As we made our way toward the exit, we noticed beautifully painted murals of ninjas in various action scenes. They were designed in a way so children (and American tourists) could pose as if to be included in the precarious situation. There were even instructions posted so you could get it just right.

Koga Shiga Prefecture manhole


We exited the area and saw some ninja sculptures amidst some strikingly red maple trees. As we crossed the street we walked confidently, believing we would find the Ninja Museum in no time. We strolled here and there in the warm sunshine.

We saw the ninja-themed manhole covers and the ninja public telephone. We took a long walk past beautiful farmland, looked at interesting birds, and saw a bumper sticker on a barn which said "United We Stand," a reference to the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March. We were getting pretty hot and sweaty by this time, and we were grateful to find a vending machine next to the barn. A local said hello to us as I took a drink of CC Lemon.

Koga Shiga Prefecture ninja


We never found the museum. And by this time we felt too stupid to ask anyone for help. We went back to the station, too small to have any food for sale, and rode the JR back to Hikone. These days we say the ninja were just too clever for us, and they had hidden themselves as they watched us walk aimlessly through Koga. Next time I will heed the message from the old woman!

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