Iga Ueno Castle Walking Tour is a 2.7 mile out and back trail located near the city of Iga, Mie. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, and scenic driving.
Construction of Iga Ueno-jo (Iga Ueno castle) commenced in 1585, under the command of Takigawa Katsutoshi (little information exists of Katsutoshi). In 1608 Tsutsui Sadatsugu (1562 to 1615), Katsutoshi's successor and a cousin and son of a feudal lord, took-over the construction work and added the Honmaru (innermost Bailey) and the Tenshu (Donjon). In 1608, after Sadatsugu's lands were confiscated by the Tokugawa (a Shogun who ruled over Japan),the castles construction was then taken-over by Todo Takatora (1556 to 1630), a Daimyo or feudal lord. Takatora renovated the Honmaru, increasing the walls height to 30-meters, which to this day remains the tallest of any castle in Japan. In 1612,after a storm destroyed parts of the castle, it was decided not to repair the damage, as the castle wasn't considered important as it once was,and was allowed to go to "rack-and-ruin". In 1935, the Tenshu was re-constructed (in wood) and now houses the museum, which holds a collection of artifacts relating to the areas history. Unfortunately other parts of the castle lie in ruin,but the towering Honmaru still stand. The castle is now a "National Historical Site". The origins of the Ninja is obscure and difficult to determine, which is why they are a covert agency. Some records show they came into being in the 14th-century, but other records show they were around in the Heian (794 to 1185) and Kamakura Eras (1185 to 1333). The functions of the Ninja include espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and they used stealth as their main weapon. As you stroll through the Iga Ninja Museum, you will experience how the Ninja lived and trained, with the many displays like the revolving walls, trap-doors and hidden compartments. The exhibition has on display the many tools,gadgets and weapons used by the Ninja.And, then there is the demonstration zone. You need to be careful here,as you may become one of the targets. From 1st April to 4th May each year, is the annual "Iga Ueno Ninja Festa", where the city comes to life with many exhibits, competitions, and the opportunity for the visitor/fan to practice their Ninja skills. Matsuo Basho (1644 to 1694) was the most famous poet of the "Edo Period" (1603 to 1868) in Japan.Centuries after his death, Basho is still highly regarded and respected for his "Haikai no Renga" (Renku - linked verses)form of poetry, and the "Haiku" (a form of Japanese poetry consisting of 17-moras). He made his living as a teacher, but renounced the social and urban life of the literacy circles,and decided instead to wonder throughout the country, where he would gain inspiration for his writing. Many of his works have been translated into English. The "Haiseiden" (Haikai Master's Pavilion) resembles Basho's traveling style - the round roof is his sedge hat,the octagonal lower roof his straw raincoat, the pillars his walking stick and the wooden-frame of the building arranged as his face. The "Basho-o Kinenkan (Basho memorial museum) is a tribute to Basho with it's library containing some of the great poets writings and documents.