Koka City was once home to the legendary Koga Ninja Clan, and the local station pays homage with some fun trick art! 

Train stations in Japan are more than just a place to get on and off a train. Some are even worth going out of your way to visit, like this train station with dancing cats dotted around it.

It was at one of these train stations that our Japanese language reporter Haruka found herself at the other day — Koka Station in Shiga Prefecture. Fans of Japanese history may recognise Koka, whose Japanese characters can also be read as ‘Koga’, as the base of the famous Koga Ninja Clan. Even to this day, the city of Koka celebrates its ninja history, and the local train station is no different — in fact, it is full of ninjas for you to pose and snap pictures with.

From the outside, the station doesn’t particularly stand out as being full of ninjas, but any shinobi worth their salt knows how to hide in plain sight.

▼ If you look closely though, there are a few hints suggesting ninja activity nearby.

As Haruka drew closer to the station, she began to get excited. She’s been a fan of ninjas since she was little, and grew up watching ninja cartoons like Nintama Rantaro. She’d often read stories about ninjas and dreamed of using secret ninja techniques, especially suiton no jutsu, the water technique sometimes known in English as ‘water release‘. And now she was about to meet ninjas at the birthplace of one of Japan’s most legendary clans!

Yes, Haruka was visiting a train station full of ninja trick art!

Throughout the station, there are seven different pieces of trick art for ninja fans to pose and take pictures with. The first of the seven was waiting for Haruka in the north entrance waiting area.

▼ A ninja jumping out of a window!

The trick art featured two ninja shadows; one holding the window frame open, and one majestically leaping out of it. Haruka had come to the station by herself, but that wasn’t going to stop her from setting up a sweet shot.

▼ She took a picture holding the window frame…

▼ … and then one leaping out…

▼ … and then mixed them together for this epic ninja shot!

The shadow behind Haruka looked like a proper ninja silhouette, which seemed at odds with Haruka’s casual attire. But Haruka felt like that only added to the ninja atmosphere, like her ‘writer’ attire was just a smokescreen, and the real Haruka was actually a super shinobi in a SoraNews24 journalist disguise.

She continued to the next piece of trick art, which was on the second floor by the ticket gates.

▼ Up on the ceiling!

Haruka already knew what to do; she set up the camera to look up from below, and posed to look like she was uncovering some hidden ceiling ninjas!

▼ Almost…

▼ Nailed it!

Although Haruka eventually got the shot, it was difficult to figure out where to put her arm. In fact, she only managed to get this miracle shot after about 50 attempts. It probably would have been a lot easier if she’d brought a friend who could direct her better.

Trick Art number 3 was on the wall near the ticket gate.

▼ Ninjas in the wall

▼ This was another two person shot.

This picture seemed like a natural ninja scene, like the ninja was embarrassed to have been discovered.

The fourth piece of art was painted next to the stairs down to platform 1. It seemed like Haruka was about to live her dream of executing some suiton no jutsu water techniques!

Suiton no jutsu…?

As much as Haruka thought about it, she just couldn’t figure out what kind of pose she was supposed to do here. What was the ninja at the front doing? What was the ninja in the pond doing? What were those koi carp doing?! Eventually she settled on a ‘leaping into the pond’ pose. As the photo shutter sounded, she imagined her younger self was somewhere looking down at her, shaking her head in disappointment.

Shaking off that melancholy image, Haruka made her way to the fifth piece of art, which was to the left of the ticket gate, on the second floor.

▼ The ninjas in this art seemed friendly, waving to passersby and posing for the camera.

But while the atmosphere in this picture seemed casual and friendly, Haruka noticed the hard-working shinobi to the left of the painting…

▼ “I’m coming with you!!”

Haruka’s trip to the ninja train station was almost done, as she stealthily made her way to the sixth piece of art. It was on the stairs near the south entrance, and was by far the largest piece of art in the station.

This trick art was fairy easy to pose for, and Haruka once more merged two photos together to make an epic scene.

The final piece of trick art was on the first floor of the south entrance.

The last scene shows three ninjas dangling from the ceiling. With a perfect pose and a bit of camera trickery…

▼ … Haruka dangled from the ceiling, right into the ninja’s lair!

So while Haruka’s dream of mastering some water jutsu techniques didn’t quite come true, she had a lot of fun sneaking around the station and getting some great shots.

While the station is technically free to enter, you still need a ticket to get past the ticket gates. For those coming from outside the station, the cheapest train ticket is 150 yen (US$1.30). For those coming by train, be aware that there are only one to three trains per hour that stop at Koka Station, so make sure you time your trip well, or you could be stuck at the station for a long time. Haruka recommends at least 30 minutes to fully enjoy the trick art there and get some stellar shinobi shots.

And if you’re wondering why there aren’t any real ninjas at the station — apart from the obvious fact that you wouldn’t even notice if they’re there — it’s probably because they’re busy teaching life skills at Mie University.

Photos: ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]