Ago Bay, situated southeast of Ise Grand Shrine, draws visitors with its majestic meandering coast, rich with verdant islands and peninsulas.
There are around 60 islands in the bay
The G7 Summit was held here in 2016
Ago Bay is accessible by train.
The only rail link in the area is Kashikojima Station, the last stop on the Kintetsu Ise Shima Line. The journey on Kintetsu lines takes about one hour from Iseshi, two hours from Nagoya, and two hours 30 minutes from Osaka-Namba.
To make a grand entrance into Ago Bay, ride the Esperanza, a Spanish pirate ship, on the Kashikojima Espana Cruise.
Why is a Spanish galleon here? Mie Prefecture has a sister state relationship with the Spanish region of Valencia, and the first European vessels to visit the area were said to look somewhat like the Esperanza.
Pearls are another important part of Ago Bay's history and culture. In 1892, local pearl farmer and merchant Kokichi Mikimoto invented a way to culture perfectly round pearls here.
A ride on the Esperanza includes a visit to a pearl factory.
For a wider view of the bay and its 60-something small islands, head to the Yokoyama Observation Deck. If you don't have a car, you can take a taxi for 10 minutes from Kintetsu Ugata Station or walk 40 minutes from Kintetsu Shima-Yokoyama Station.
The bay is famous for Ama Divers, women who free-dive for abalone, sea urchins, and pearls. Women are believed to have better stamina for deep divin,g and though there are only a handful of traditional divers left, you can visit their bay-side huts and enjoy a fresh seafood meal.