The Miho Museum is a large, isolated museum tucked away in the mountains of the Shigaraki area of Koka. It's an art museum, but more than that, it's an experience!
The museum was purposefully built in the middle of nowhere so that all the surroundings could be part of the museum and simply getting to the museum is supposed to be part of the overall experience of the museum, because it takes you out of the cities and towns and into a space that is its own.
The museum was designed by the world-reknowned architect, I.M. Pei (who built the Louvre among other famous buildings). Once you get to the museum you can either ride up or walk up to the building. I highly recommend anyone who is able to walk do it! The walk to the museum is arguably the best part of it! You walk up a hill through a tunnel which is really beautiful and interesting. When you come to the end of the tunnel, you see the museum across a bridge. It's beautiful and of course, architecturally interesting. From inside there is a window from which you can see a building off in the distance. That building is another part of the art of the museum outside of the museum itself built to create this view!
Inside there are exhibits featuring art and statues from Iran, Greece, India, Egypt, and other parts of the world along with Japanese art. The North Wing features Japanese art and the South Wing features the world art. I think the pathway up and the architecture of the building itself are the most interesting part but the art exhibits here are truly world-class, so they should not disappoint.
Before planning to visit, it is important to check the website. Between exhibits the entire museum closes and sometimes for a long period of time. Entrance is 1000 yen.
The Ninja Yashiki is the former house of an actual ninja, and not just any ninja, one of the leaders of Koga-ryu Ninjutsu, Mochizuki. According to their information it is the only one left in Japan, so it is a worthwhile and unique experience for anyone with an interest in ninja.
Tours are conducted periodically and if you visit, it is well worth your time to stay and watch them. Although they are in Japanese, most of it is demonstrations of the secrets of the ninja house, for example, the door that you cannot open from one side due to weights but when you use both hands it opens. There is also a very obvious trick door that is actually meant to distract from the underground passage below. The window is also interesting, as it cannot be opened unless you swipe a piece of paper down the side.
The house also features ninja artifacts and visitors are free to climb to the second floor. The tea served here is said to be the same as what ninja drank (although I couldn't tell any difference between that tea and normal tea!).
It is not a large building, but ninja houses needed to be inconspicuous, because if people found out that a ninja lived there, they could face assassination attempts.
Entrance is 600 yen.
The Koka Ninja Village is a scenic little place with buildings and other things set up to help visitors learn about Koga Ninjutsu, which originated in this area. There is a small museum featuring artifacts, from clothing and props used by ninja to manuscripts. They have also recreated a ninja house, which features many different kinds of hidden passages. Ninja built their homes like this in order to have the upper hand against any possible intruders.
The Ninja Village is very interactive, and those who are willing to participate will enjoy the experience more. You can try on ninja costumes (these are mostly cheesy and for children, but it may be fun if you are in the spirit) and wear them as you walk around. You can also test your skills at throwing shuriken (throwing stars). In addition, the Ninja Village offers the opportunity to obtain your very own Ninja License. In order to get it, you must complete (or attempt) tasks that ninja often had to do, such as climbing castle walls, walking on thin ledges, traveling through underground passages, and traversing castle moats. Although it is aimed at children, it is actually quite fun for adults to try!
The structures are all reminiscent of old Japan, so the overall atmosphere is quite nice!
Entrance is 1000 yen for adults and 600 yen for children.