In a previous article we talked about Togakushi’s Okusha Shrine. Today we would like to introduce to another popular attraction in Togaukshi – the fascinating Ninja Museum! But firstly, who were the ninja and where did they come from? We will give you the background story of the Togakushi ninja in this article.
Togakushi is written with the Chinese characters, or kanji, of 戸隠 (to-gakushi). The first character meaning ‘door’, and the second one comes from the word ‘kakusu’ which is the verb for ‘hiding away’. Togakushi is the name of the region but the name of the Ninja school is Togakure. The same characters are used but by having the reading be ‘hiding’ instead of ‘hiding away’, the reading of the same characters changes from Togakushi to Togakure. To get more information on the name Togakushi, please look at the Togakushi Shrine Okusha article.
The Togakure ninja style, known as Togakure-ryu, is said to be founded halfway through the 12th century. It is one of the major and oldest ninja styles in Japan, and is still practiced to this day. Its philosophy is quite different to most ninja schools in that most ninja schools have very strict training regimens, whereas the Togakure-ryu promoted individual thinking, personal training and curiosity. Trainees of the school are encouraged to develop themselves and defy superiors to a certain level. This to achieve ‘True mind, True eyes’ which should create the ability to read situations better and make decisions better.
Though they practiced sword techniques, more focus was put on information gathering and infiltration techniques such as disguise, impersonation, signalling, alchemy to craft potions/poisons and more. Besides swords, The Togakure ninja used shuko, claw-like gloves, which could be used to deflect sword attacks, climb walls/trees as well damage an opponent and caltrops to halt enemies in their tracks.
The Togakushi area is full of trees and shrubs and has Mount Togakushi, which is a very rocky mountain and known to be extremely difficult to climb. The region was the perfect place for both physical and mental training as ninja could find more than enough remote areas for meditation.
The Togakushi Folk Museum offers extra history and information about the Togakure Ninja as well as a lot of fun activities for young and old.