Isobe Scenic Drive
Time Required: 1 h Distance: 15.4 km
A scenic course that takes in “power spots” and the rural landscape
This course explores the mythology and history of Ise. The starting point at Ama-no-iwato, meaning heavenly rock cave, is located along Ise-doro Road, which connects Ise City and Shima City. At the end of the narrow road is a parking lot.
From here, walk straight along the Ise-doro Road in the direction of Shima, go past the first traffic lights, turn left at the small intersection, and head up to Omu-iwa Rock, or Parrot Rock in English. Voices from remote places reflect against the sides, allowing you to experience a strange echo effect.
Go down Ise-doro Road and turn left at the T-junction. Turn left again, and after some 500 m, there is Izawa-no-miya Shrine. This is the only shrine associated with Ise Jingu Shrine outside of Ise City. Please enjoy the unique atmosphere of its deep history.
From here, drive a little further along National Road No. 167 in the direction of Toba, cross the first railroad crossing and proceed for about 2 km until you see a road heading up Mt. Aonomine on your left. If you drive to the mountaintop, there is a parking lot in front of Shofukuji Temple. The area around the parking lot commands stunning views of both Izo-no-ura and Matoya bays.
The cave where, according to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki (Japan’s oldest chronicles), Amaterasu Omikami (a major deity of the Shinto religion) hid after being exasperated by the mischievous behavior of her younger brother, Susanoo-no-Mikoto. The water that springs from this cave has been selected by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the 100 exquisite waters of Japan. This is a beautiful location that fuses mythology with nature.
Izawa-no-miya Shrine was established by Izawatomi-no-mikoto as a shrine to worship Amaterasu Omikami when Yamatohime-no-mikoto was visiting Shima while searching for a minie-dokoro (sacred land). The Otaue rice-planting ritual held here every June is one of the three major festivals of its kind in Japan and is registered as an Important National Intangible Folk Culture Asset.
Mt. Aonomine Shofukuji Temple
The Shofukuji Temple has a long history and is said to have been established by the Buddhist priest Gyoki in the Nara Period. It is located on Mt. Aonomine, a sacred mountain believed to protect the sea. The temple is mainly worshipped by local fishermen. The annual Mifune Festival held on January 18 of the old calendar attracts a large number of worshipers and the area is decorated with fishermen’s “good-catch” banners, dedicated to the temple.