Ultimate experiences and exquisite pearls in a superb setting
Toba and Shima—towns located on a peninsula that juts out towards the east beyond Ise-jingu —have several attractions that make for a worthwhile trip.
- See the luxuries enjoyed by 19th century elites
- Find romance via divine rocks at sea
- Make new friends with the dolphins, penguins and other critters at the Toba Aquarium
- Discover Spanish culture in this far-flung corner of Japan
How to Get There
Kintetsu and JR rail lines connect Toba and Shima with the rest of Mie Prefecture and beyond. The Kintetsu Shima Line is the only rail link to the southern part of the peninsula.
The journey to Toba by train takes about one hour and 45 minutes from Nagoya, and two hours or more from Osaka and Kyoto. The Kintetsu Shima Line can transport you between Toba and Shima in about 30 minutes.
Experience history and culture in Toba
On the north side of the peninsula are a cluster of sites offering enjoyable ways to learn and experience how Japan has developed over the centuries. You can head back in time to the medieval period, when civil war first fractured Japan and then united it stronger than ever, at Samurai Kingdom Ninja-Ise .
Dress up as a samurai, ninja or maiko to really blend in with the historical scenery. You can also partake in exciting activities like archery and watch thrilling shows featuring martial arts and battle reenactments.
Closer to the shore you'll find the Hinjitsukan , a former villa for royalty and the wealthy. It has since been converted into gardens and a museum of 19th century architecture.
The goddess of Ise Grand Shrine
Nearby are the Meoto Iwa rocks. Out in the water, this pair of stones represent the deities who gave birth to Amaterasu. Amaterasu is the sun goddess and is enshrined at nearby Ise-jingu . She is the legendary ancestor of the imperial line all the way to the present.
At the edge of it all
Venturing farther east, you approach the tip of the peninsula. Get acquainted with the area at the Toba Visitor Center, then head over to the Toba Aquarium to come face-to-face with marine life that is both entertaining and downright peculiar.
A short walk down the shore is a bridge connecting the mainland to Mikimoto Pearl Island and the Pearl Museum, where you can see how the precious objects go from oysters to jewelry. You'll also find some enticing gifts to peruse in the store.
Spanish influences in Shima
On the south side of the peninsula is Ago Bay , where a maze of little strips of land stretch out into a massive cluster of little islands.
The grandest way to navigate the complex channels is on the Kashikojima España Cruise, which will take you to a local pearl factory for a tour. It turns out that the area has historical ties to Valencia in Spain, which has a sister state relationship with Mie Prefecture.
In fact, the area is home to Shima Spain Village , a family-friendly, Spanish-themed amusement park. Here, you can enjoy rollercoasters, parades, dance performances, shows and an eclectic array of foods and alcoholic beverages.