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So Much to See! Five Select Tourist Destinations in Mie Prefecture

Mie Prefecture, which is blessed with rich nature and traditional culture, has many wonderful tourists spots starting with the world famous Ise Jingu. This time, we picked up five recommended tourist destinations that you won't want to miss in Mie Prefecture.

1. Ise Jingu

Ise Jingu is the general term for 125 Shinto shrines around the Ise Shima area and is the shrine with the highest prestige in Japan. It is a sacred area to pray for peace and prosperity of the nation centered around the Naiku, which is dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, the ancestral kami (Shinto deity) of the Imperial family, and the Geku, dedicated to Toyouke-Omikami, the kami that protects industries. It is also a famous tourist destination that has been popular among the Japanese for years, with approximately 8 million visitors annually. Once you've seen the shrine, go to Oharai-machi and Okage-Yokocho in front of the Naiku. They are filled with souvenir shops and restaurants where you can enjoy special Ise foods such as Ise Udon noodles.

1. Ise Jingu

1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise-shi, Mie

2. Meoto Iwa

Next is Meoto Iwa (married couple rocks), a pair of rocks out in the sea off Futamigaura on the eastern shore of Ise. The rock that is 9m tall is considered to be the husband, and the 4m tall rock is the wife. They are connected with a shimenawa (a rope used to cordon off consecrated areas) as if they are a couple that are snuggled up together. This is a famous spot to take great photographs, where you can capture the sun rising between the rocks during May to July and the full moon from the fall to winter. Futami Okitama Jinja nearby is also a popular tourist destination that is said to help with matchmaking and matrimonial harmony.

3. Shinmei Jinja (Ishigami-san)

This is a jinja in Osatsu, a town of fishermen and ama (women divers who collect fish and seaweed), that is considered to be a "power spot" (location thought to be flowing with mystical energy​). Ishigami-san, a shrine on the grounds, is particularly famous for granting at least one wish, especially those made by women. To make a wish, write it down on the paper provided by the shrine and place it in the Negaibako (box of wishes). The Ishigami-san Omamori amulet, which has an ancient design to ward off evil that has been passed down among the ama, is also very popular.

3. Shinmei Jinja (Ishigami-san)

1237 Osatsu-cho, Toba-shi, Mie

4. Tado Taisha

This is an ancient shrine in Kuwana City that is said to have been established during the latter half of the fifth century. It is sometimes referred to as the Ise Jingu of the north because it is dedicated to a deity that is the child of Amaterasu Omikami, to whom Ise Jingu is dedicated. There is a legend in the area that white horses bring good luck, and the shrine has great connections with horses. There are live sacred horses near the entrance that greet worshipers. During the Tado Festival, held on May 4 and 5 every year, there is an event called Ageuma Shinji, in which six boys on horses gallop up a 2m cliff. The sight of the horses and boys moving as one is so gripping that you may find yourself clenching your fists.

4. Tado Taisha

1681 Tado, Tado-cho, Kuwana-shi, Mie

5. Yokoyama Observatory

Shima Peninsula in eastern Mie Prefecture is a treasure trove of nature that is designated as a national park. Yokoyama Observatory is a popular spot for a complete view of the beautiful nature of the peninsula from an altitude of 203m. In particular, the view of Ago Bay is spectacular and has earned a star in Michelin Green Guide Japan. The ragged coastline, the rafts out in the bay used to culture pearl oysters, and the scenery created by the approximately 60 islands are all a must see. The area around the observatory is also full of nature and perfect for hiking.

*Please note that there is currently no access to the parking lot up on the mountain due to maintenance.

5. Yokoyama Observatory

875-20 Ugata, Ago-cho, Shima-shi, Mie

Mie Prefecture still has many more tourist spots such as Tsubaki Grand Shrine and Ise Sea Paradise. Be sure to visit this beautiful prefecture.

*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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