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Mie in action: An adventurous trip through Ninja experiences, pilgrimage through historical forests, and more Mie in action: An adventurous trip through Ninja experiences, pilgrimage through historical forests, and more

STORY Mie in action: An adventurous trip through Ninja experiences, pilgrimage through historical forests, and more [Sponsored]

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With its rich ninja heritage and abundant nature, Mie is an ideal destination for those seeking adventure.

Learn about a trip filled with excitement, where families can enjoy Mie's unique charms through locations and experiences that can only be found there.

We'll guide you through each awe-inspiring spot before you set off on your very own adventure.

Action packed Ninja Show and Museum

Tucked away in the mountains and hills of Iga city in Mie prefecture is the heart of ninjitsu, where Ninjas thrived during the Muromachi (1336-1537) to Edo (1603-1867) periods.

At the Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu, you can explore the inside of a former Ninja home. From the outside, the house looks like any common farmer's house, the difference is it's full of traps, secret doors and hidden rooms for defense purposes. A ninja or a female ninja, Kunoichi, will guide you through the house as you explore all of the traps together.

At the Ninja Experience Hall, you'll find ninja tools on display, giving you a glimpse into the mystical world of Ninjas. There you'll find the famous shuriken which is a star shaped hidden dagger, historical artifacts, and other ninja tools on display. You can even try shuriken throwing. Continuing on to the Ninja Tradition Hall, you'll learn about the secret codes that ninja used and how ninjitsu can be useful in modern times. Make sure you check out the Ninja Show calendar as well to see professionals demonstrate the use of shuriken, swords, blow darts, rope climbing and self-defense techniques used by Ninjas.

Ninja Museum of Iga-ryu

The Holy Land of Motorsports, Suzuka Circuit with its Thrilling Amusement Park and Impressive Plum Blossoms

Developed by Honda back in the 1960s, Suzuka Circuit is a world-renowned motorsport race track located in Suzuka City in Mie. It was designed by Dutch architect John Hugenholtz and opened in 1962. The track is approximately 5.8 kilometers long and features a unique figure-eight layout. Due to its combination of high-speed straights, complex turns and elevation changes, it is one of the most challenging and technical race tracks in the world. It hosts both Japanese and international events throughout the year, such as the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix. The circuit is also a popular testing ground for Formula One teams due to its technical and demanding layout.

But it's far more than just a racetrack. It's also home to “Suzuka Circuit Park,” an amusement park where even children can enjoy operating car and motorcycle attractions by themselves. Not only children, but adults too can enjoy driving an electric vehicle on the “Circuit Challenger,” a course dedicated to F1 races, or Japan's first motorcycle-type rollercoaster, “GP Racers.” It's a highly recommended sightseeing spot for motorsport enthusiasts and their families. Near the park are accommodations including Suzuka Circuit Hotel and Suzuka Circuit Family Camp, where visitors can enjoy hot springs and meals prepared with locally produced ingredients from Mie Prefecture.

If you are in the area from mid-February to late-March, head over to Suzuka Forest Garden for a breathtaking view of weeping plum blossoms in bloom. This garden in the northern part of Mie was originally a research garden. It was created to preserve Japan's traditional techniques for growing weeping plums. Managed by professionals, there are now over 200 magnificent plum trees thriving. The plum flowers are mostly a pale pink hue, but some are dark pink, crimson, white, and other colors. The garden is home to the “Kurehashidare” weeping plum tree, estimated to be one of the oldest (more than 100 years old) and largest weeping plum trees in Japan. Every year, a plum festival is held in February and March. When the plums are nearing full bloom, there is also a beautiful illumination at night. From the garden observatory, you can also see the blossoms with Suzuka Mountains in the distance. And if you are lucky, once in a few years you'll witness snow-covered plum blossoms. Suzuka Forest Garden is operated by Akatsuka Garden Company Group, which has many other facilities throughout Mie. If you've missed the plum festival, you can also visit one of the other facilities such as Red Hill “The Forest of Hisa” to see roses (best viewed from mid-May to mid-June or mid-October to early November) or Japanese wisteria (generally viewable from late-April to early-May), as well as Akatsuka Rhododendron Garden (generally viewable from the beginning to late-April), Akatsuka Hydrangea Garden (generally viewable from the beginning to late-June), and Akatsuka Blueberry Garden (generally viewable from early-June to mid-August). In addition INABE CITY NOGYOKOEN (Inabe City Agricultural Park) also hosts one of the largest plum and botan festivals in the Tokai area. The vast plum grove is breathtaking, with 4,000 ume trees of 100 varieties in full bloom. It is famous for a popular spot for photographers. The park is also a place where you can enjoy playing park golf with your friends and family.

Suzuka Circuit Racing Course

Drive Suzuka Circuit in an Electric Vehicle with “Circuit Challenger”

Motorcycle-type rollercoaster “GP Racers” in Suzuka Circuit Park

Suzuka Forest Garden

Red Hill “The Forest of Hisa” © Mie Photo Gallery

INABE CITY NOGYOKOEN (Inabe City Agricultural Park)

Exciting Resort Experiences and Floral Scenery

Further east near the border of Nagoya is Nagashima Resort which is situated on Nagashima Island. The resort is an excellent destination for anyone as it features a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. Some notable ones being Nagashima Spa Land amusement park, Nabana no Sato flower park, Mitsui Outlet Park shopping center, and Yuaminoshima Onsen hot springs. It's an all-inclusive type resort where there are several hotels, restaurants, and facilities for guests to make the best of their time on the island.

Nagashima Spa Land amusement park features over 60 rides and attractions such as roller coasters and more. Also, the world's largest outdoor water park is open in summer from July to September.

Nabana no Sato is one of the largest flower gardens in Japan. The park mesmerizes visitors with a fascinating variety of flowers and trees throughout the year, including tens of thousands of begonia flowers blooming in the giant greenhouse, and is also a popular destination for its exciting seasonal events. Flower festivals take place from February to late June, displaying weeping plum blossoms, Kawazu cherry blossoms, tulips, roses, hydrangea and irises. In winter, Nabana no Sato hosts one of Japan's largest illumination festivals. Illumination events in Japan are usually held during the coldest months, but at Nabana no Sato you can enjoy spectacular light displays from late October to late May. The event has a different theme every year, attracting repeaters and first timers alike. Don't miss the dazzling 200m-long Tunnel of Light, or the main area popular for its massive illumination, and the mystical River of Light, the largest over water illumination display in Japan.

Also there are different types of restaurants, including Japanese, Italian and Chinese cuisines, a beer garden offering freshly brewed local beer, and a variety of shops where you can buy local souvenirs, cakes, and, of course, flowers. After a long walk you can relax at the footbath or soak in the natural open-air baths of Sato no Yu Hot Springs to wrap up the day.

Nagashima Spa Land

The water park in Nagashima Spa Land

Nabana no Sato

Nagashima Resort – Yuaminoshima

Relaxing trips by train and feeling Japan with resort experiences in Ise-Shima

To fully appreciate the beauty of the ocean surrounding Mie, you can take the premium sightseeing express train “Shimakaze” operated on the Kintetsu line from Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya. On this 2-2.5 hour ride, you'll be able to enjoy large-window views of the coast down to Ise-Shima in Mie. The limited express tickets can be purchased online or at a station ticket counter.

One of the major stops on the Shimakaze is Iseshi Station. From there it's a short walk to Toyo'uke-daijingu of Ise Jingu. You can continue by bus or car to visit Kotaijingu of Ise Jingu which is the most sacred place for the Shinto religion. About 20 minutes west by car you'll find a resort within the mountains of Taki town called VISION.

VISON is a huge commercial facility that combines both "food" and "culture" that Japan is proud of. On a total area of more than 1 million square meters, or 24 times the size of the Tokyo Dome, there are approximately 70 stores offering a variety of goods and services in addition to the hotel.

The huge complex is divided into multiple areas, each of which has its own theme. Ryuji Teshima, a chef whose restaurant was awarded a star in the Michelin Guide Paris, is the supervisor of the Marche VISON farmer's market. The market features a wide range of produce from Mie Prefecture, including delicacies from both the land and the sea, like Matsusaka beef, Japanese spiny lobster, and abalone. Other highlights include Amagoya, run by the ama female divers where you can eat the shellfish and seaweed they collect, and a barbecue store you can walk in and enjoy. Sweets Village is produced by the patissier Hironobu Tsujiguchi.

The WA-VISON area features Japanese cuisine brought together by manufacturers of traditional ingredients such as miso, soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), vinegar, dashi (soup stock), and sake. There are also workshops and events where visitors can experience and learn about Japanese cuisine and craftsmanship. For some excitement, you can rent their buggies for some off-road adventure and a tour around the grounds. You can also drive around a course full of nature on one of their rental buggies. Last but not least, there is a wellness spa, and mist sauna facilities to relax your tired muscles. It is especially recommended for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life.

Toba Aquarium houses more than 1,200 species, the largest number in Japan, featuring 12 zones that is home to animals from the coral reefs to jungles, the cold regions and of course Iseshima.

If you'd like to experience the ocean first-hand, take the Shimakaze to the last station, Kashikojima. From there you can hop on the the Kashikojima España Cruise.

Ise Jingu (Kotai Shrine)

Hotel VISON private villa

Marché VISON

VISON White House Village and Buggy Park

A dugong at Toba Aquarium

Kashikojima España Cruise, pleasure boat “Esperansa”

Access Mie Prefecture

Mie is accessible via 2 airports: Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai International Airport. You can also take limited express trains from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. Travel with Shinkansen via Nagoya or overnight highway buses is also possible.

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