Finding the Secrets of “the Ninja Temple”

the front gate of the ninja temple in kanazawa

No pictures allowed beyond this point; secrets must be kept…

Famous for its trick doors, hidden chambers, and many traps, Myouryu-ji is often referred as Ninja-dera, or “Ninja Temple,” though it has little to do with ninja at all. The temple was a sanctuary for a forbidden samurai army and offered escape routes for a military that lower lords were not legally allowed to posses.

After centuries of civil warfare, the peace under the Tokugawa Shogunate was tentative, with ruling lords suspicious of competitive wealth or military strength. While the Kaga region and its capital Kanazawa flourished under the rule of the Maeda clan, the lords played their cards close to the chest, hiding, if not foregoing, anything that might be viewed as a threat, including their loyal and plentiful army of samurai.

Making the Most of Your Ninja Temple Tour

Chouzuya, cleansing area just outside the main entrance of Myoryuji, the Ninja Temple in Kanazawa

Reservations are required. (Kaname staff can schedule appointments on behalf of guests.) Early hours and weekdays offer the best experience with a better chance of smaller crowds.

Visitors are asked to arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled time. As Myoryu-ji is today still a place of worship, please be respectful of the building when entering.

The tour itself is only in Japanese. At the start of the tour, as guests are seated in the main hall, staff will provide an English booklet. We recommend taking the first 10 minutes reading as much of this booklet as possible before groups are formed and the guided group tour begins. Much of the temple is dimly lit, making reading difficult, and time spent reading during the tour will be time seeing the tour lost.

If you know what you’re getting into, you can make the most of your time there. Enjoy finding out all the secrets!

The Maeda Family Plum Blossom Seal on the Gates to Myoryuji, the Ninja Temple in Kanazawa

Half a decade ago Ryann fell off a bus and then fell in love with this traditional-crafts and ice-cream-consuming capital of Japan. Editor and amateur photographer with a penchant for nature and history. Not actually fifty songbirds in a trench coat.