The Mochizuki Yashiki was the home one of the most influential of the 53 Samurai clans of Koka, which also became known as the Koka Ninja. The house you see today was re-built in 1704.
With much skepticism in mind, I visited the "Koka Ninja House" in Shiga on the basis that it was a bukeyashiki (samurai home) that I could add to my bukeyashiki pages. The visit reaffirmed my understanding of the ninja, but also provided me with a new found respect for the Koka samurai specifically and opened my eyes to this fascinating chapter in Japanese history. The origin of the Koka Ninja is deeply rooted with the independence of the 53 Koka families.
The "ninja house" is a samurai home, the home of the Mochizuki clan. It is full of Koka Ninja lore and history about the 53 Koka Clans, especially the Mochizuki who lived in this house. Original artifacts, including tools for the making of medicines, educate you about the truth of the Koka Ninja. You can also try samples of the Kenpocha, or herbal health tea, a Koka medicinal tea used to maintain health. The guide said that the original recipe had been "modified" to make it more palatable to the people of today. The tea itself was quite good, but with that explanation I suspect the original recipe was very bitter!
The house is full of small tricks to confuse any would be attackers and allow the occupants to easily exit the house through windows and doors that also require special tricks to open or secret passages, stairs and ladders. Despite a most enjoyable trip to this samurai home, I do have one minor gripe. The ninja mannequins unfortunately play into the stereotype at the same time that the museum tries to dispel such myths. These should be removed. To further enhance the authenticity of the experience an herb garden growing some of the natural herbs and plants used in their medicines would make a really interesting addition.
A note about ninja: The term "ninja" is not an accurate historical term. They didn't call themselves ninja and there were different terms used for the spying and guerilla tactics employed by this group of people that are collectively called ninja today. One of the most frequent is "shinobi" as you will see on many posters around the Koka area claiming it as the "shinobi no sato" or "hometown of the shinobi." There are a number of "ninja theme parks" around the country at places only loosely, if at all, connected with "ninja". You are welcome to enjoy them for the Disney like entertainment they provide, just don't draw any historical conclusions from the visit. Unfortunately, despite it's fascinating history, Koka does fall into the "ninja trap" (he he he...) in a few places and has their own branded ninja theme park and museum.
|Mochizuki Residence Profile|
|English Name||Mochizuki Residence|
|Residence Type||Upper Class|
|Designations||Local Historic Site|
|Visitor Information||open weekends and holidays, 9am-5pm, 600 yen|
|Location||Koka, Shiga Prefecture|
|Castle||Mochizuki Castle (Koka)|
|Coordinates||34° 55' 6.49" N, 136° 10' 2.53" E|
|Mochizuki Castle (Koka) and nearby Samurai Homes|
|Visits||February 11, 2022|