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Many tourists flock to Iga Ueno in search of ninja experiences, often overlooking the city's centerpiece: Iga Ueno Castle, a prime example of Warring States period fortresses. Surprisingly, the Ninja Museum and Iga Ueno Castle share the same grounds, nestled within modern-day Ueno Park!

Construction of Iga Ueno Castle began in 1585 under Takigawa Katsutoshi's command, though he was soon stripped of his lands. The inner citadel, Honmaru, and keep were predominantly completed by the new lord appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tsutsui Sadatsugu, who took over in 1586.

In 1608, Tsutsui faced allegations of misrule, leading to his clan's dissolution by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Todo Takatora, renowned for his castle architectural prowess, assumed control. Takatora revamped the Honmaru and heightened the stone ramparts to an impressive 30 meters, earning the castle the moniker "White Phoenix" due to its resemblance to the mythical bird resting in the greenery below.

Sadly, a typhoon ravaged the main tower in 1612, and due to stringent Tokugawa laws and Ieyasu's political motives, it remained unreconstructed until 1935. The wooden five-story keep, reconstructed then, stands as a testament to Momoyama Period architecture and even featured in Akira Kurosawa's 1980 film "Kagemusha."

Today, Iga Ueno Castle houses a museum showcasing samurai arms, armor, scrolls, artworks, and regional artifacts, offering panoramic views of the city from its summit. Registered as a National Historical Site, the castle and its grounds hold significant cultural value.

Nearby attractions include the Ninja Farmhouse and Museum, along with a unique temple and museum dedicated to the wandering poet Matsuo Basho, adding to the allure of Iga Ueno Castle as a beloved symbol of the city.

 


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