Myoryu-ji: Ninja Temple in Kanazawa full of traps and tricks 

Spoiler alert! In the next couple of paragraphs, I will be talking about the inside of the temple where you are not even allowed to take photographs, so if you want to go there and experience it for yourself, you might not want to read this.

Posted on 01/07/2015

Under government regulations of the day, buildings over two stories high were not permitted. If you look at Ninja Temple from the outside, it appears to be two stories, but inside it actually comprises four stories with seven internal floors, 23 rooms, and 29 staircases. There is an observation tower on the roof of the main hall with views across the plains of Kaga, meaning that enemies could easily be spotted. The temple is built around a 25-meter-deep well, the bottom of which is said to connect to a tunnel above the water level which leads to Kanazawa Castle. Some locals believe that there are other hidden tunnels under the ground in Kanazawa for the lord to secretly escape if he came under attack. 

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Observation tower and escape tunnel

Trick offertory box

The offertory box in front of the main temple could be used as a trap hole. The box is fitted into the floor of the front entrance and could be removed and replaced with a Tatami mat in order to make a trap. Once the box is removed, the trap hole is 3 meters deep.

The room of Seppuku (committing hara-kiri suicide)

After entering the room, the door cannot be opened from the inside. It is claimed that this room was built with the purpose of encouraging defeated Samurai fighters to engage in the ritual seppuku (hara-kiri) suicide as a means of dying with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies. The temple contains many more tricks and traps, including a staircase that could be “hidden” in the ceiling and a sliding door in the form of a two-way mirror. 

Ninja Temple is not well known by the locals, but it becomes very busy with tourists at the weekend so it’s best to go there during the weekdays. 

Myoryu-ji "Ninja Temple"

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00

Address: 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Post code: 921-8639

Admission: 800 yen

Closest bus stop: Hirokoji (広小路)

Website: www.myouryuji.or.jp/

How to get to Myoryu-ji (Ninja Temple) from Kanazawa Station

Take a bus from stop 8, 9, or 10 at Kanazawa Station East Gate Bus Terminal and get off at Hirokoji. It takes approx. 15 mins and a single fare is 200 yen. The Kanazawa Loop Bus also takes you to Myoryu-ji. Take the Left Loop (LL) route at stop 7. A single fare is 200 yen. The one-day bus pass is also valid on any of these lines.

How to get to Myoryu-ji (Ninja Temple) from Kenrokuen

Go to stop 1 at Kenrokuen-shita and take the 81, 53, 43, or 15 and get off at Hirokuji. It takes approx. 10 mins and a single fare is 200 yen.