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Saio Princess Experience in Mie

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Saio Princess Experience in Mie


Step into the role of an imperial princess who once served at Ise Jingu Shrine

Hana Meiwa DMO



Dress in a multi-layered junihitoe kimono and experience a day in the life of one of the Saio imperial princesses who served at Ise Jingu Shrine many centuries ago. This activity is highly recommended to travelers interested in Japanese history, especially if you plan to visit Ise Jingu Shrine.

The small town of Meiwa, located just a 15-minute train ride from the city of Ise in Mie Prefecture, is home to the fascinating story of the Saio princesses, unmarried female members of the imperial family who were sent from Kyoto to serve at historic Ise Jingu Shrine. This practice began in the 7th century and continued until the 14th century, a period of wars and social turmoil. The vast Saiku Palace in Meiwa faded into obscurity, only to be rediscovered through archaeological excavations in 1970. Nowadays the remains of Saiku Palace and the story of the Saio princesses who lived there attract throngs of fans of Japan’s ancient history.

A faithful reconstruction of one of the original Saiku Palace buildings will be rented out exclusively to you so you can experience the culture, traditions and lifestyle of the imperial court aristocrats. For example, you can try on the junihitoe, a multi-layered ceremonial kimono worn by nobles during the Heian-period (794-1185), and enjoy some of their elegant pastimes by playing the board game sugoroku and the card game kai-awase.

Playing the role of a Saio princess in these authentic circumstances will make your visit to Ise Jingu Shrine an unforgettable one and deepen your knowledge about Japan’s most significant Shinto shrine.


How to get there


From Nagoya Station, take the Kintetsu Line to Saiku Station (about 1 hour and 30 minutes by Limited Express with a transfer to a local train at Matsusaka Station). The tour will meet at Saiku Station.


Saiku, Meiwa-cho, Taki-gun, Mie-ken


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