Ise-Jingu in Mie is a must-visit. As you cross the Ujibashi Bridge, said to separate the mundane from sacred world within, feel an inexplicable sense of great peace as you enter the holy ground of Ise-Jingu Grand Shrine. One of the most sacred in Japan, the shrine is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu and therefore has strong ties to the generations of Imperial Family. Within the complex are over 100 shrines, though not all of them are fully open to visitors..
After visiting the Ise-Jingu, why not take a stroll down Okage Yokocho, or “Thankful Street”, the bustling shopping street just outside the shrine area? Traditional buildings that line the street, together with street performances, lend it a nostalgic atmosphere recalling the old days when pilgrims throughout Japan travelled for days to reach Ise. Pick up souvenirs there or try some tasty Ise Udon - fresh udon with unique texture in soy sauce, or succulent Ise-Ebi lobsters.
When in Ise, a must-buy souvenir is Akafuku mochi, a delectable confection of mochi covered by red bean paste. The ridges in the bean paste symbolise clear water of the Isuzu River which flows through the Ise Jingu area, while the white mochi represents pebbles on the riverbed.
Matsusaka in Mie Prefecture, is best known for its eponymous Matsusaka Beef. Ranked as one of Japan’s top premium Wagyu for its melt-in-the-mouth texture and exquisite marbling, this beef comes from cattle that are pampered from birth, fed beer and given walks and massages so that their meat be at its prime at maturity. Do try this beef which is delicious not only as steak but also in traditional Japanese sukiyaki.
The towering stone walls of Matsusaka Castle remain and impress visitors. Built in 1588 by Ujisato Gamo, the castle is now beloved by the locals as a park, for its beautiful plum blossoms, cherry blossoms and wisteria in spring as well as gingko foliage in autumn. You can stroll around the area nearby, wearing authentic Matsusaka Momen (cotton) Kimono by rental.
Aside from beef, Matsusaka is famous for the traditional Indigo-dyed cotton. Matsusaka cotton (Momen) is prized for its subtle sophistication and long-lasting quality and was so popular that at one point, one in two people in Edo had a kimono made of the cotton! So why not try weaving Matsusaka cotton yourself, or pick up a cotton souvenir at the Matsusaka Momen Hand Weaving Center?
Access :1 Ujitachi-cho, Ise City, Mie Prefecture
Operating hours :From Jan to Apr:5am to 6pm / From May to Aug:5am to 7pm / Sep:5am to 6pm / From Oct to Dec:5am to 5pm
How to get there :Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya. Then, from JR Nagoya Station, take the Mie rapid train to JR Iseshi Station. It takes about 90 minutes. From JR Iseshi station, walk 10 minutes to the outer shrine. To get to the inner shrine, take a bus from either JR Iseshi Station or the outer shrine. It is a 15 minutes ride. Alternatively, take the Kintetsu limited express from Kintetsu Nagoya Station. Alight at Isuzugawa station and either walk for 40 minutes or take a 6 minutes’ bus ride from the station.
Access :52 Ujinakanokiri , Ise City, Mie Prefecture
Operating hours :Varies from shop to shop
How to get there :Take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya. Then, from JR Nagoya Station, take the Mie rapid train to JR Iseshi Station. It takes about 90 minutes. Then, take the Geku-Naiku Loop Bus from JR Iseshi Station and get off at Jinkukaikanmae Stop.