Ise-Shima National Park

Non-profit Nature Service http://www.natureservice.jp/

Ise Jingu's sacred grounds and the elegant vistas of the Shima Peninsula

Ise Jingu (Ise Grand Shrine) is at the seat of Japanese religion and spirituality. Explore beyond Ise Jingu and you will find a striking coast—at times a haven of rolling sands, at others buzzing with activity—local fishermen going about their time-honored practices and the fruits of their efforts that are yours to enjoy. Read more about Ise-Shima National Park.

Visiting Japan's National Parks

Ise-Shima National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and no permit is required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time. 

Meoto Iwa rocks

Park Highlights

Ise-Shima National Park is on a peninsula stretching out into the sea in southern Mie Prefecture. There are numerous inlets, roughly 60 small and large islands and a network of pearl culturing rafts in Ise-Shima’s Ago Bay. 

DON'T MISS

  • A guided diving experience with the famous female Ama divers 
  • Cycling around the park's islands with a guide or on your own  
  • Glamping on Ichigohama, or "Strawberry Beach"

The coastal area of Ise-Shima National Park faces the Pacific Ocean, with rugged cliffs carved by the waves and sandy beaches where sea turtles come ashore to lay eggs. Fishing villages rich in history and culture exist nearly unchanged and produce delectable seafood.

RIA COAST

The land on the coast of the Shima Peninsula has been reshaped repeatedly over time. A complex ria coastline of capes and inlets has been created by seawater entering the areas that were previously rivers and valleys.

Ria Coast

The Ria Coast in Ise-Shima National Park is made up of small bays such as Ago Bay, Matoya Bay and Gokasho Bay, and many large and small islands. The karst landscape on Kamishima Island is a unique landform created by the erosion of limestone by rainwater and groundwater.

YOKOYAMA OBSERVATORY

Yokoyama Observatory commands a panoramic view of Ago Bay, famous for pearl cultivation. Look out at the intricately carved inlets of the ria coastline and the pearl-harvesting rafts on the water.

Yokoyama Observatory

KINKI NATURE TRAIL

This area along the Pacific Ocean provides insight into a way of living that is in harmony with nature. This walking trail extends from Cape Anorisaki to Cape Mugisaki, with stops at lighthouses, beaches and ancient burial mounds along the way. 

The south of Koushirahama is the Ago-no-Matsubara Beach, famous for its beautiful stretch of sandy seashore dotted with pine trees. Ruins and ancient burial mounds dot the route from Kouka to Azena. Loggerhead turtles spawn on the stretch of sandy beach, and locals are heavily engaged in conservation efforts.

JINGU-KYUIKIRIN FOREST

Nearly 1,300 years ago, timber used for builing Ise Jingu began to be sourced from this forest. So far, about 850 species of flora have been confirmed here. Ongoing silvicultural management not only maintains the rich forest ecosystems for living creatures but also plays a role in preventing floods and other natural disasters.

Jingu-kyuikirin Forest

Plants & Animals

Along the coast, sturdy plants such as the Hibiscus hamabo in Gokasho Bay are able to withstand the harsh sea breeze that constantly moves sand around. Seagrass beds stretch from the mouth of the Ise Bay and the coast off the Shima Peninsula.

The inlets around Toba Bay and Ago Bay are excellent for viewing large flocks of black-tailed gulls and herring gulls. The sandy beaches across the park are egg-laying sites for loggerhead turtles. The rocky intertidal zone of the Kumano-nada Sea shore is inhabited by relatives of the Japanese goose barnacle and Balanomorpha, as well as Japanese spiny lobster. In addition, tide pools are a habitat for families of sea anemone, shrimp and goby.

 

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    Hibiscus Hamabo

     

    This species of the hibiscus family is found in the area from western Japan to Jeju Island in South Korea, and as far as Amami Oshima Island. A halophilous plant found in basins and on coastal areas, Hibiscus hamabo blooms with yellow flowers.

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    Hamayu (Crinum asiaticum L. var. japonicum)

     

    This plant is a member of the licorice family. In Japanese, it is called hamayu or "white cloth of the beach," and is found in coastal areas. The appearance of the flower resembles a white cloth (yu) used in Shinto devotions.

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    Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

     

    Loggerhead turtles are found in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. These turtles come ashore to lay eggs on sand beaches at various locations in Ise-Shima National Park.

Culture 

Ise-Shima National Park is steeped in Japanese culture and tradition. The 125 shrines of Ise Jingu, among the country's most important spiritual sites, center on the inner shrine and outer shrine. The Meoto Iwa rocks, or the Married Couple rocks are also an important place of worship. From May to July, visitors can watch the sun rise from between the Meoto Iwa rocks, and clear days around the summer solstice are an especially good time to watch the sun rising from behind Mt. Fuji in a distance.

 

Shio-Kake Festival

 

Traditionally, the Shima Peninsula has been known as Miketsu Kuni, or "land of divine offerings." Spirituality is intimately connected with nature's bounty here, particularly through fresh seafood and pearls. Ise-Shima abounds with many temples and shrines where fishermen and Ama female divers working in the ocean pray to the deity for maritime safety and a rich haul. There are several fascinating festivals associated with the belief, such as the 790-year-old Shio-Kake Festival in which participants splash each other with seawater.

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    Seasonal Information

     

    From May to October, Ama female divers hunt for shellfish and seaweed. Visit during this time of year to observe how these experts skin dive near the shores and coves of Ise-Shima National Park. Join a special tour to meet the Ama divers, cook freshly-caught seafood together, and learn about their daily lives.  

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    October to April is the season for Ise-ebi, or spiny lobsters. Female divers from the area can take you on a guided tour of the fishing ports where you'll see freshly-caught Ise-ebi, and then grill the crustations over charcoal while listening to the stories of the Ama divers' lives.

About the Park 

Ise-Shima National Park is on the Shima Peninsula in the center of Mie Prefecture. It expands over the cities of Ise, Toba, Shima, and Minami-Ise, occupying a vast area of nearly 60,000 hectares and is broadly divided into two areas. One is the inland area where the Ise Jingu is located, surrounded by a forest environment. The other is the coastal area noted for complex terrain and geological features dotted with a myriad of inlets and capes. The park boasts an extremely high proportion of private land—over 96 percent—and has a large residential population within the park.

FACTS & FIGURES

  • Date of National Park Designation: November 20, 1946
  • Area: 55,544 ha (555.44 square kilometers)
  • Location: Mie Prefecture

VISITOR INFORMATION CENTERS 

The Yokoyama Visitor Center at the eastern foot of Mt. Yokoyama provides information about nature and the unique culture of Ise-Shima National Park. From the center, make a trip to the Yokoyama Viewpoint for views of the rugged Ago Bay coastline.

PARKS RULES & SAFETY 

As with any national park or conservation area, visitors to the national parks are required to observe the following rules for safety and to protect the area's natural biodiversity:

  • Carry in, carry out: Take all of your trash with you. 
  • Do not pick wildflowers or damage plants. 
  • Do not feed the wild animals. 
  • Hunting is not permitted. 
  • No smoking while walking. 
  • Campfires are only permitted in designated areas. 
  • Beware of high surf and gusty winds and tidal changes.
  • Danger of landslides when raining.
  • During an earthquake, be prepared for a tsunami and evacuate immediately to higher ground.
  • Catching fish and shellfish by the public other than fishery operators may constitute a violation of fishery rights and be punishable by law.
  • The entry of vehicles into the breeding grounds of loggerhead turtles is restricted.