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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!

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Source: Tokyo Times
an old and faded long stay Tokyo ryokan

Over the last few weeks I’ve documented some of the older accommodation that can be found in Japan, from a massive and unique looking public housing complex, to a narrow street of mostly wooden, post-war Tokyo homes. With those photos in mind, the incredibly dated ryokan below is in many’s ways quite comparable, and yet at the same time it’s also markedly different.

Ryokan, or traditional Japanese inns, have an image of large rooms, fancy food and relaxing hot baths — aspects that are generally true in tourist spots such as Kyoto and Hakone. On the other hand, ryokan can also be a cheap and cheerful option catering to the likes of traveling salesman and construction workers. The latter being lodgings where you get exactly what you pay for, which generally isn’t very much.

This ryokan, however, is cheaper still, with long-term stays welcome, and where prices start at just ¥1,200 a night. Considering the number of shoes stowed by the entrance, and the time of day I took the photos, it would appear that people staying for extended periods is very much the norm as well. A predicament that’s about as far from the usual image of life in Tokyo as this ryokan is in regards traditional Japanese accommodation.

an old and faded long stay Tokyo ryokan

an old and faded long stay Tokyo ryokan

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