#1. Ise Grand Shrine
Ise Jingu, located in Mie Prefecture, is the most venerated Shinto sanctuary which holds great spiritual and historical significance. It attracts more than eight million worshippers a year as this sacred shrine consists of 125 shrines centering around the two main sanctuaries: Naiku and Geku. Naiku is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the supreme goddess shining like the sun, who is the ancestral Kami, God, of the Imperial family of Japan. Geku is dedicated to Toyouke Omikai, the deity who offers sacred food to the supreme goddess. The sacred ground, which is surrounded by a natural forest, has long been revered as the home of Amaterasu Omikami, the guardian deity of Japanese people.
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Ise Grand Shrine
Address: 1 Ujitachicho, Ise, Mie Prefecture
Access: 120 minutes on the Kintestsu Limited Express from Kintetsu Nagoya Station
Hours: 5:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Website: Ise Grand Shrine
#2. Okage Yokocho
Opening in 1993, Okage Yokocho is a shopping street right in front of the Naiku Shirne. There are some 50 shops including: souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes. Okage of Okage Yokocho means a deep sense of gratitude for the beautiful surroundings, bountiful resources and appreciation for all living things. All the staff at Okage Yokocho welcome you with high spirits of Okage.
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Address: 52 Ujinakanokiricho, Ise, Mie Prefecture
Access: 8 minutes by bus from Isuzugawa Station
9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
9:30 AM – 6:00 PM (August – September)
9:30 AM – 5:00 PM (November – February)
Website: Okage Yokocho
#3. Ninja Museum of Igaryu
Photo Credit: m-louis .®@flickr.com
Located at Ueno City in the Mie Prefecture, the Ninja Museum of Igaryu is a museum where you can learn all about ninjas. The Ninja Museum of Igaryu consists of 5 areas: Igaryu Ninja House, Ninja Experience Hall, Ninja Tradition Hall,and the Ninja Show and Museum Shop. The Igaryu Ninja house shows typical things such as set traps, fake hallways, escape routes, hidden doors, and places to hide swords. Here a Kuno, female ninja, guides visitors through each part of the house while showing and demonstrating each trap or trick it contains. You can enjoy a Ninja Show where ninja tools that were actually used in the ninja era are demonstrated. Shuriken, swords, and kusarigama are used in this exciting display. Igaueno Castle, a national historic site, also stands near the Ninja Museum of Igaryu.
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Ninja Museum of Igaryu
Address: 117 Ueno Marunouchi, Iga, Mie Prefecture
Access: 8 minute walk from Uenoshi Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Admission Fee: 756 yen
Website: Ninja Museum of Igaryu
#4. Meoto Iwa
Meoto Iwa is located in Ise City. The Futamiokitama Shrine is dedicated to Sarutahikonookami, who is believed to bring a good partner and a happy marriage. Meoto of Meoto Iwa means husband and wife. Meoto Iwa, standing in the sea off Futamiokitama Shrine, looks upon a torii gate which is used to worship a sacred rock called Okitamashinseki. It sits at about 700 meters off Meoto Iwa where the sun rises from the sea. From May to July you can watch the sun rise between Meoto Iwa. A sacred twisted straw rope called Shimenawa hangs between two rocks and is replaced three times a year.
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Address: 575 Futamichoe, Ise, Mie Prefecture
Access: 24 minute walk from Futamino Ura Station
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Website: Meoto Iwa (Japanese)
#5. Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
The beautiful Kumano region in the southern reaches of the Kii Peninsula is one of Japan’s oldest sacred sites and has been a pilgrimage mecca for centuries. Areas such as Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan, Yoshino and Omine are connected by pilgrimage routes called Kumano Kodo. UNESCO World Heritage Property has designated these routes under the name “Sacred Sites”. The Kumano Kodo consists of four pilgrimages: Nakahechi, Ohechi, Iseji and Kohechi.
The Nakahechi pilgrimage route starts from Tanabe on the western coast of the Kii Peninsula and traverses east into the mountains towards the Kumano grand shrines. It is the official starting point and most popular route for visitors from western Japan. The Nakahechi routes cut through the center of the Kii Peninsula from north to south linking the Buddhist temple complex of Koyasan and the Kumano Sanzan. It is characterized by steep trails and an isolated walk on its northern sections meaning that hikers should be well-prepared before attempting it.
The Ohechi pilgrimage route runs south from Tanabe along the coast to the Udarakusanji Temple. The view from the well-preserved passes offer expansive scenic vistas over the Pacific Ocean.
The Ise route runs along the east coast of the Kii Peninsula between Ise Grand Shrine and the Kumano Sanzan. To prevent erosion from heavy rain, extensive sections were paved with picturesque cobblestones. This route has an inspiring diversity of mountain passes, bamboo forests, terraced rice fields and beaches.
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Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
Address: 859 Nakahechicho Kurisugawa Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture
Access: 29 minutes by car from Asso Station in Wakayama
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Website: Takijiri Oji (Japanese)
#6. Matsusaka Beef
Matsusaka beef is one of the three major Wagyu beef brands in Japan. It is dubbed the “Masterpiece of Beef” as dairy farmers in Matsusaka cherish their cattle by serving them beer and give them massages to make good beef. In Matsusaka City there are many restaurants specializing in Matsusaka beef. Matsusaka beef features marbled meat which is good for steak and especially sukiyaki. Among many restaurants in Matsusaka City, Wadakin is the most venerable Matsusaka beef restaurant, where you will be satisfied with the best of the best kind of Matsusaka beef.
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Address: 1878 Nakamachi, Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture
Access: 8 minute walk from Matsusaka Station
Hours: 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM
#7. Yokkaichi Industrial Area Night View
Formed in mid-50s, Yokkaichi is one of Japan’s four major industrial areas and is also the most thriving petrochemical complex in Japan. In the process of its development, Yokkaichi suffered from air and water pollution. However, thanks to effort by the companies, municipal government and people, Yokkaichi has improved. Now, the Yokkaichi industrial area attracts people with its functional beauty in the daytime and its glittering beauty in the nighttime. You can enjoy the Yokkaichi industrial area night view from the 100-meter high observation deck of Umiterasu 14, Yokkaichi Port Building and from the sea. The Pleasure cruiser is operated regularly. There are also many places to take photos on the ground such as in front of Yokkaichi Dome, the Taisyo Bridge and Shigesaka Park.
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Yokkaichi Industrial Area Night View
Address: 2 Chome-1-1 Kasumi, Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture
Access: 16 minute walk from Tomidahama Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Yokkaichi Port Building (Japanese)
#8. Shima Mediterranean Village
Located across the bay on the opposite side of Kashikojima, where the G-7 Summit was held last year, sits the tourist complex known as Shima Mediterranean Village. Mediterranean streets suddenly emerge from the natural beauty of Ise Shima. Upon entering the gate, you’re greeted by the exotic atmosphere as well as the rich nature of Ise Shima. With a vast area measuring at 33,000 square meters, there are villa-style guest rooms, restaurants, cafes and shops. Within the facilities you can enjoy various experiences such as craft works, fishing, Ago Bay cruising, an esthetic salon, massages and karaoke. You can also enjoy a day trip here.
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Shima Mediterranean Village
Address: 2619-1 Hazako, Hamajimacho, Shima, Mie Prefecture
Access: 15 minutes by car from Ugata Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Website: Shima Mediterranean Village
#9. Akafuku Mochi
Akafuku mochi is a Japanese-style confectionery rice cake with red bean jam made by Akafuku. The head shop is just in front of Ise Grand Shrine and has been offering Akafuku mochi to worshippers at the Ise Grand Shrine for more than 300 years. Akafuku mochi is one of the most well-known souvenirs in this area as the shape of Akafuku mochi represents the stream of the Isuzu River and its gravel. In addition, Akafuku sells Tsuitachi mochi, a special rice cake on sold the first day of each month, except January, Akafuku gori, shaved ice with Akafuku mochi in summer, Akafuku zenzai, and Akafuku mochi in red bean soup in winter. You can buy Akafuku mochi at various stations and department stores in the Kinki and Tokai region as well.
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Address: 26 Ujinakanokiricho, Ise, Mie Prefecture
Access: 9 minutes by bus from Isuzugawa Station
Hours: 5:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Akafuku Official Site
#10. Maruyama Senmaida
Located in Kumano City, Maruyama Senmaida is a terraced rice field which is considered one of the best 100 terraced rice fields in Japan. Although Senmai of Senmaida means one thousand, its actually has around 1,340 rice fields. Even though was devastated in 1990s due to lack of successors, difficulty of mechanization and a fall in rice price, Maruyama Senmaida was revived thanks to efforts by local people and municipality. Surrounded by mountains, the Maruyama Senmaida terraced rice field shows off its full beauty which also contributes to protecting the environment. Maruyama Senmaida terraced rice field also hosts various events all year around such as rice planting.
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Address: 78 Kiwacho Itaya, Kumano, Mie Prefecture
Access: 30 minutes by car from Kumanoshi Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Kumano City Official Site (Japanese)
#11. Autumn Leaves at Mt Gozaisyo
Mt. Gozaisyo is situated on the border of the Mie Prefecture and the Shiga Prefecture where it stands tall at 1,212 meters. Mt. Gozaisyo attracts people all year around due to its seasonal happenings such as azaleas and cherry blossoms in spring, red dragonflies in summer, colored leaves in autumn and skiing in winter. Mt. Gozaisyo is especially popular for autumnal leaves. The Gozaisyo Ropeway is operates between the Yunoyama hot springs and the summit of Mt. Gozaisyo. A 15 minute ride brings you to the summit of Mt. Gozaisyo. On the way to the summit you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Ise Plain and the Ise Bay. This is especially breathtaking when the is mountain covered with colored leaves in autumn.
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Address: 8522 Komono, Mie, Mie Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes walking from Kintetsu Yunoyama Onsen Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Mt. Gozaisho Ropeway Official Site (Japanese)
#12. Nabana no Sato
Nabana no Sato is a botanical garden located at the Nagashima Resort. Nabana no Sato consists of several areas including Flower Square, Begonia Garden, Rose Garden, and a lifted observation deck called Island Fuji. Seasonal flower events such as Japan’s largest flower festival in spring, the Hydrangea and Iris Festival in summer, the Dahlia and Cosmos Festival in autumn and A symphony of winter illumination are held in Nabana no Sato. The winter illumination in Nabana no Sato is one of the largest winter illuminations in Japan as it is composed of five parts: illuminations on the water, twin trees decorated with illuminations, an illuminated tunnel, illuminated arches and a space themed illumination called “The Beauty of Mother Nature”.
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Nabana no Sato
Address: 270 Urushibata Komae, Nagashimacho, Kuwana, Mie Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes by bus from Nagashima Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Website: Nagashima Resort (Japanese)
#13. Cherry Blossoms in Mitake
Located near the border between the Mie and Nara Prefectures are the cherry blossoms in Mitake which are considered as one of the top 100 cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. It is lined with wild cherry trees stretching for more than 1.5 kilometers towards the Shinpukuin Temple on route 368. It is designated as a place of scenic beauty as the cherry blossom festival is held in April annually. The cherry blossoms in Mitake reflects off the water in the rice field prompting visitors to gather and shoot their best photos of cherry blossoms. Surrounded by mountains, Mitake in the spring looks like a paradise on earth.
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Cherry Blossoms in Mitake
Address: 204 Misugicho Mitake, Tsu, Mie Prefecture
Access: 21 minutes by car from Ise Okitsu Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Website: Tsu City Official Site (Japanese)