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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/

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

Just off the busy area of Kanazawa there is a Buddhist temple known as Ninja-dera (“Ninja Temple”). The real name of this favorite tourist attraction is Myoryu-ji, located just after crossing the Sai-gawa river. Although the temple actually has nothing to do with Ninja, many guidebooks call it Ninja Temple in reference to the number of deceptive defences (traps) inside the building. Today, we visited this secretive temple in Kanazawa with its 360-year history. 

Posted on 01/07/2015

In 1643, Myoryu-ji Temple was relocated to its current location from a site near Kanazawa Castle by Maeda Toshitsune, the 3rd lord of the Kaga domain. It had previously been a prayer hall for the Maeda clan, but successive temple masters served as consultants for the lord Maeda and the temple was also seen as Kanazawa’s second castle. At that time, the Tokugawa shogunate ruled over the country and many of the major clans had been abolished by the government since its unification. The Kaga clan could also have been targeted, and Toshitsune therefore got married to a lady from the Tokugawa family, and also sent his mother to Tokugawa as a hostage, pretending to be a rather silly lord in an attempt to avoid any suspicion from the rebellion. In case things eventually got worse, Toshitsune constructed a group of temples that were built together and which could accommodate a large group of his army. Myoryu-ji was located in the center of those temples in order to observe the surrounding sites.

You need to make a reservation to see the inside of Ninja Temple. A Japanese guide will take you around on an approximate 30-minute tour. The tour commentary is in Japanese and interestingly, their website states “acceptance of a ban of translation”, explaining “please confirm and accept that translation is not allowed during the tour even if one of the visitors within the party can understand Japanese and translate into other language.” Hmmm, they’re so secretive, aren’t they? But don’t worry, you will get an English booklet explaining all about the traps and tricks in the temple. At the beginning of the tour, our guide warned us, saying, “Be careful, sometimes someone in the group goes missing!”