The Ise-Shima area in Mie became famous as the site of the G7 summit in 2016. Here are five recommended spots from the many places to see in Ise Jingu and among the area's rich nature.
1. Ise Jingu
Ise Jingu is a shrine with the highest standing among Shinto shrines. Long considered a place the Japanese aspire to visit at least once in a lifetime, it is still a popular object of worship. Ise Jingu, officially "Jingu," includes 125 shinto shrines spread across the Ise-Shima area. Among them, the Naiku and Geku are the most important shrines, and it is traditional to visit the Geku first then the Naiku.
When you visit, you won't want to miss the Oharai-machi and Okage-yokocho areas in front of the Naiku gate that have recreated the Edo period townscape. There, you can enjoy strolling around while enjoying the restaurants, souvenir shops and historical structures that line the beautiful cobblestone streets.
2. Sarutahiko Shrine
This is the main shrine of approximately 2,000 Sarutahiko shrines across Japan. The shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko Okami, the deity that guide worshipers, who are starting something new or are struggling to make a decision, in a positive direction. Sarutahiko Okami is also considered to be a deity that can help remove calamities related to directions and protect travelers.
The shrine grounds are relatively small, but there is much to see in addition to the main shrine, such as Sarume Shrine, dedicated to the deity of entertainment, and an Azimuth Stone Marker which is said to make wishes made while touching it come true. It is 12 minutes on foot from the Naiku of Ise Jingu, so why not visit it as well?
3. Futami Okitama Jinja
This is a shrine in Futamiura, on the eastern coast of Ise. It was once customary to enter the sea here to cleanse oneself before worshipping at Ise Jingu.
The highlight of this area is the Meoto Iwa (married couple rock). Because the two rocks, large and small, that are connected by shimenawa rope look as if they are a married couple, they are considered to be a symbol for successful romance and marriage. During the months of May to July, one can see a fantastic view of the sun rising between the two rocks. Be sure to note the many statues of frogs on the shrine path and grounds. The frogs are considered to be messengers of Sarutahiko Okami, who is enshrined here.
Futamiura, which was considered to be the place for worshippers to cleanse themselves before entering Ise Jingu, also flourished as a place the worshippers stayed in. A key building in this area is Hinjitsukan.
It is a historic building that was established in 1887 as a place for privileged guests visiting Ise Jingu to rest or stay at, and has hosted many members of the imperial family and dignitaries. It is now open to the public as a museum. It is designated as an important cultural property that retains traditional Japanese architecture just as it was at the time it was built.
Entrance fee: 300 JPY/adult, 150 JPY/child (elementary, junior high, high school).
Kashikojima in Ago Bay is a beautifully intricate coastal inlet. It became famous in 2016 when it hosted the G7 summit.
The highlight is the graceful and delicate scenery created by the sixty-plus islands of varying sizes in the bay. It is known as the birthplace of cultured pearls, and one can still see many rafts for pearl culture on the water. It is also famous for the beauty of the scenery at sunset, when the landscape is painted in peach. The best location to see the scenery is Kashikojima Ohashi bridge. There are also many leisure facilities such as an aquarium and theme park, so it is perfect for families.
These spots are all places where you can experience Japan's culture or rich nature. Pleasethoroughly enjoy the shrines that embody Japan's long history, and the fabulous scenery that is unique to the area.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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