Ise, Mie - Places of Interest

Places of Interest

  • Ise Grand Shrine: It is sometimes called "The Shrine of the shrines" to indicate its status as the most sacred Shintō shrine. Legend has it that Yata no Kagami (The Sacred Mirror), one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, is housed somewhere within the grounds. The entire Shrine is completely rebuilt from scratch every 20 years using fresh lumber that is brought to Ise and then ceremonially carried through the streets on its way to the Shrine during an okihiki (お木曳). The Shrine is in its 61st reconstruction, meaning this tradition has been carried out for at least 1,220 years. The next reconstruction will be in 2013.
    • Outer Shrine (外宮 gekū): Sometimes called toyouke-daijingū (豊受大神宮), it is dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the goddess of food, clothing, and shelter (life's basic needs). Pilgrims are supposed to visit the Outer Shrine before visiting the Inner Shrine. However, if the visitors time in Ise is limited they are encouraged to skip the Outer Shrine because the Inner Shrine is the far more famous of the two. Then again, this makes the Outer Shrine an ideal place for a tranquil walk through well-preserved nature as it is far less crowded. The beautiful pond that is immediately adjacent to the Shrine grounds is a particularly nice walk. The Outer Shrine is very close to Ise-shi Station. From the station, one should exit from the JR side (as opposed to the Kintetsu side), walk straight down the road, and arrive there within five minutes.
    • Inner Shrine (内宮 naikū): Sometimes called kō-taijingū (皇大神宮), it is dedicated to Amaterasu-Ōmikami, the sun goddess who is sometimes called the "supreme kami." This shrine sees many visitors from around Japan on a daily basis; there is a sharp increase during the New Year's season. People traditionally visit a shrine on New Year's Day, but since it will be the first visit of a new year, special consideration is given to the choice of shrine. Some people travel to shrines that may be more significant than those in their own area, and this inevitably leads people to Ise Grand Shrine, particularly the Inner Shrine. The inner sanctum of the main shrine area within the Inner Shrine is off-limits to visitors, thus only the rooftop of the structure that houses the kami can be seen. This image widely represents Ise Grand Shrine.
    • Cultural facilities: These institutions provide a deeper understanding of Ise Grand Shrine. They are all housed at the top Mt. Kurata which is part of the pilgrimage route between the Outer Shrine and the Inner Shrine.
      • History Museum (神宮徴古館 jingū-chōkokan) chronicles the creation and development of the Shrine.
      • Fine Art Museum (神宮美術館 jingū-bijutsukan) displays works by artists and painters donated during the reconstruction ceremony that is held once every 20 years.
      • Agricultural Museum (神宮農業館 jingū-nōgyōkan): Since the Outer Shrine is dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the goddess of life's basic needs, this museum covers how agriculture fulfills these needs.
      • Library (神宮文庫 jingū-bunko) contains various volumes dealing with Shintō and Ise Grand Shrine. Open to the public but generally used by researchers and Shintō priests.
    • Oharai Machi (おはらい町): A small sidestreet that runs between Prefectural Route 32 and the entrance to the Inner Shrine with buildings that are made to look historical. The part of the road closer to the Inner Shrine is filled to the brim with vendors, particularly those selling omiyage. This road is home to the main akafuku shop.
    • Okage Yoko-chō (おかげ横丁): This area branches off of Oharai Machi about halfway between Prefectural Route 32 and the entrance to the Inner Shrine. It has a large concentration of eateries. Taiko performances can be heard here sometimes, usually on the weekends. It should be noted that both Oharai Machi and Okage Yoko-chō are extremely popular among tourists visiting the Inner Shrine and will often be just as crowded, if not more crowded, than the Shrine.
  • The Wedded Rocks (夫婦岩 meoto-iwa): Located at Futami Okitama Shrine (二見興玉神社) in northeastern Ise. The rocks have been enshrined and are thus considered gods. The picture was taken at high tide. During low tide the sea is completely out and the rocks look less impressive. Visitors are encouraged to go during high tide.
  • Ise-Shima National Park
    • Ise-Shima Skyline: A 16.3 km-long scenic mountain road that runs between Ise and Toba. One-way with a car costs ¥1,220, with a motorcycle it's ¥860.
    • Mt. Asama (朝熊山): At 555m, this is the tallest mountain in Ise; its two TV towers make it very distinctive. At the top there is a lookout point with a large paved parking lot that is accessible from the Ise-Shima Skyline road. Near the parking lot are some buildings and a pool of hot water to soak your feet in while you take in the beautiful view. The summit can also be reached by a hiking path up the mountain that starts just north of Asama Station.
    • Kongōshō Temple (金剛證寺): A Buddhist temple near the top of Mt. Asama. It is accessible from the Ise-Shima Skyline road.
  • Miya River
    • Riverbank Park (宮川堤公園 miya-gawa tsutsumi kōen): A famous cherry blossom viewing area, making it a very popular destination during the prime blooming season which is in early April. Also has a big large fireworks display in mid-July. The park is on the east side of the river near the Watarai Bridge.
    • Love River (ラブリバー) houses public leisure and sports facilities for baseball, soccer, basketball, and tennis. The park is on the east side of the river near Route 23.
  • Edo Wonderland Ise (安土桃山文化村 azuchi momoyama bunka mura): A theme park with an Edo Period theme, featuring samurai, a ninja maze, and a ghost house. Located in Futami.
  • Kawasaki: A lane of buildings built to resemble the old merchant quarters in Ise. Found along the Seta River north of Ujiyamada Station.
  • Shintomiza (進富座): An independent movie theater showing a variety of art-house Japanese and foreign films. A short walk south of Miyamachi Station.

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