The enduring attraction of Ise Shima
From Nagoya, the trip to Kashikojima takes 90 minutes by the Limited Express Shimakaze. On the train, free Wi-Fi services are available, including a video stream of the sights outside of the train. The train’s dining car serves seafood pilaf, beef curry, sandwiches, and drinks, and from there, we enjoyed the scenery while eating lunch.
On the way to Kashikojima, an excellent resort area with a fine view of Ago Bay, we stopped at Toba to visit Mikimoto Pearl Island, but the museum was closed due to COVID-19. Instead, we went to Hamaco Pearl in Toba where we learned a lot about pearls. Quality pearls are available here at discount prices, which is less expensive than buying them at prime shops in Tokyo.
Ago Bay, the homeland of pearl culture, is a stunning beauty. The coastline embraces about 60 islands, and the bay is interspersed with small pearl and oyster culturing rafts.
Seafood of ISE
Aside from lobster, oyster, abalone, and other fresh seafood, many more local flavors abound in this region and are beloved by many people. We enjoyed spicy lobster, abalone, and Matsuzaka beef at Villa Ryusei.
The firm flesh of Ise Ebi (spicy lobster) boiled or grilled fresh from the sea has a special sweetness. I enjoyed grilled lobster with salt. Awabi (abalone) is plucked from the sea by hand by women divers and cooked in a special sauce. What a sumptuous feast! We also enjoyed the delicious chewiness of sliced awabi, and oysters from Ise Bay are thick and rich in flavor. Blessings from the sea are offered to the local Ise Shrine.
Ise Jingu (Ise Shrine) is the collective name for 125 Shinto shrines. The shrine covers about 5,500 hectares. In accordance with the Shinto principle of purity and renewal, all sanctuary buildings are rebuilt, and the deities are transferred to the new structures every 20 years. The Shinto ceremony has continued for more than 1,300 years.
Ise Shrines are divided into two main groups: the Geku (outer shrine) and Naiku (inner shrine). We were able to walk to the Geku, but we took a bus to get to Naiku, which was a 15-minute ride from the station.
Naiku is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the supreme guardian deity of the Japanese. A sacred world unfolds after crossing the Ujibashi Bridge. It is a sacred place with a very solemn atmosphere.
On the way to Goshoden, the main sanctuary of Naiku, visitors can see Torii Gate, Isuzugawa Mitarashi (a purification place), Sanshuden (a place for visitors to rest), and Kaguraden (a building where specific forms of music and dance are performed). Also visible are 14 auxiliary shrines within the central sanctuaries and 109 other peripheral shrines. While walking in the surrounding woods, you may feel refreshed by the breeze of the clean air.
Goshoden, the main sanctuary of Naiku, is constructed in the traditional Japanese architectural style. While here, we prayed for peace in Ukraine.
After visiting the shrine, we visited Oharai Machi, a long street located in front of Naiku to welcome visitors for shopping and eating. The street is lined with shops from the Edo Period (1603– 1868) and was crowded with visitors. Along the 800-meter-long street, there are souvenir shops and restaurants where we bought souvenirs and locally made biscuits.
Located at the halfway point of Oharai Machi, you will see Okage Yokocho, the site of some traditional buildings common from the Edo to Meiji periods (1868–1921). It was fun to simply walk around the area and enjoy the atmosphere.
Geku is dedicated to Toyouke Daijingu, the deity in charge of food and grain administration and also known as the protector of all industries, including clothing, food, and housing.
On the way to the main sanctuary, you will see Temizuya, where visitors are expected to wash their hands and rinse their mouths to purify themselves physically and mentally. You will also see Kaguraden and other auxiliary shrines.
Goshoden, the main sanctuary of Geku, is constructed in the traditional Japanese architectural style handed down from ancient times.
In Ise, a wide variety of mochi, Japanese rice cakes, have been served to travelers since the old times. The most famous type of mochi is Akafuku mochi.
How to Get There:
TOKYO ➡ NAGOYA ➡ （Express Shimakaze） ➡ Kashikojima ➡ Villa Ryusei (stay)
➡ Kashikojima ➡ （Express Urban Liner） ➡ Iseshi ➡ Ise ShrineIse
Iseshi ➡ (Express Shimakaze) ➡ Nagoya ➡ TOKYO