☆Things to Do: Ise Shrine in Mie☆

6:29 PM

Ise Grand Shrine - Mie Pref. 

This is definitely for people sick of the skyscrapers and the smells of the city. In Ise, you'll get such a welcome dose of nature (for those who live in big cities). It's also a coastal city, so if you're a mountainside resident, it could still be a nice change of pace.

Ise Grand Shrine is easily one of those most popular shrines in the Kansai/Chubu area, and is very popular throughout Japan as a shrine with a power spot. This means that there are crowds. If you're going by car, and you're not getting there when the shrine first opens, you can wait for a parking space to open near the shrine (when we visited, it was about a 1 hour waiting period), or park a little ways away from the shrine, and walk back.

We chose the second option, and parked out car in a private lot (read: someone's yard) for 1,000 yen for a day. That's not a bad deal as there are also a lot of sourvenir shops and restaurants to peruse through on your way to and from the temple. You can also take a break down by the river nearby to cool off.

おはらい町 O-harai Machi 

Old-timey Post Office. You have to read it from right to left :U
Going from the private parking area to the Inner Shrine (内宮 naiku), there is O-harai Machi, where you may purchase your snacks and baubles. If you're looking for shrine charms, I would save those purchases for the shrine, but if you're just looking for cute items like phone straps and postcards, you will most likely find them here. 

One day, I will learn how to take a photo properly.
<--- This bridge branches off from O-harai Machi and will take you to some quieter areas if you're looking for a break. The streets of O-harai Machi are really crowded, and with the summer heat coming, visiting the shrine might seem like more trouble than it's worth (or is that just me? I really don't do well in crowds...).

O-harai Machi isn't a really long street, probably a 15 minute or so walk with minimal crowds, but on a Saturday, it could easily turn into a 25 to 30 minute walk. Pace yourself and keep an eye out for people that actually live in O-harai Machi driving up and down roads (you know, where everyone is walking..).

As a hot spot for Japanese and Non-Japanese tourists alike, my theory is that you should be okay with finding a clerk who speaks a little English. Most of the street signs are written with Japanese and Roman letters, plus the guide maps given out also come in English and Japanese.

Ise Grand Shrine - Inner Shrine
Ise Grand Shrine is, in fact, not one huge shrine, but a shrine complex, meaning it features many small shrines within it's grounds.
The bridge to Kazehinomi-no-miya.
The sacred house for kami at Kazehinomi-no-miya.
Each individual shrine usually has it's own tori, which you're supposed to bow at as you enter and leave. A couple of the large shrines also have areas for temizusha for washing the hands and mouth. After purifying, you can then go up to the shrine, toss in an offering and say a little prayer. This particular tori leads to Kazehinomi-no-miya, which is one of the power spots within the complex. People from all over Japan come here to pray for success in their endeavors. (I also heard that this shrine is where kamikaze came from, but I need to look into that more)

Within the Inner Shrine, there are a couple more powers spots, Miya-no-meguri no kami, which is a stone guarded by a rope, and a large tree you can see on your way to Kotaijingu, the main sanctuary of Ise. I didn't take any photos (too busy getting my own power spottin' on), but they can found easily by the circle of people absorbing the good vibes.

Expect lines at every shrine you visit. Especially on a Saturday. Or during the summer. Or when the weather is nice. Or with the autumn foilage. Pretty much, any time of the year that's not absolutely frigid or not suffocateingly humid.
And that about wraps it up for the Inner Shrine. It is a complex of shrines. For praying. Or just wandering around. Either way, a good way to saunter through the afternoon. Definitely a place to visit if you'll be in the Kansai area for a while, but not really essential for short trips.

If we had arrived earlier in the day, we probably would have had time to go to the Outer Shrine as well, but that's why we can always make the trip again. And I really want to go to Ise-Azuchi Momoyama Bunka Village, theme park based on the Sengoku Era of Japanese history. The history buff in me told Shota about it as soon as I found it, and is now anticipating that trip. This year. Preferably in September.

Since we drove to Ise Grand Shrine, I don't have the usual in-depth train details, but I can share what I found through a little online research.

Ise Grand Shrine is located on the Kintetsu Railway line via the Osaka, Yamada and Toba Lines. The fastest route is by the Special Express train from Osaka Uehonmachi Station to Isuzugawa Station, though you will have to change to a Local train at Ujiyamada Station, which takes 1 hour and 55 minutes, costs 3,130 yen (a little over 30 USD). The second route takes you from Osaka Uehonmachi to Ujiyamada on the Rapid Express, then to Isuzugawa on the Local and it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. But that route costs 1,810 yen (a little under 20 bucks). I suppose it depends on how much time and money you have. ;)

However, after you get to Isuzugawa, you will need to take a bus to get to the Inner Shrine, but that, quite honestly, should be very easy to do (Japanese buses are much easier to use than D.C. buses!!) since most of the bus signs should be written in English as well.

There are also quite a few English language websites available for researching access to Ise and things to do in that area.

Ise-Toba-Shima - This website is from the Kintetsu Corporation, which is the company that runs to the trains to Ise. The sights lists information about Ise Grand Shrine, as well as a few other attractions in the area like Spain-Mura (Spain Village), Toba Aquarium, and Ise-Azuchi Momoyama Bunka Village. Unfortunately, it's not spectacularly easy to navigate, though you will enjoy their guides if you like flow charts.

Mie Tourism Guide - A website about all the lovely things in Mie Prefecture, which is where Ise is located. There is information about the Grand Shrine, Iga-Ueno, which is where ninja began, pearls, a famous export of Mie, and Matsusaka beef, another popular export of Mie.

Ise Jingu - This is the official website for the shrine. This link is in link, but it also looks like it hasn't been updated recently. But it does have some fantastic and detailed descriptions of the various shrines within Ise Grand Shrine.

I think I accidentally pushed published before I finished writing, so... sorry about that. But now the post is complete! More photos will be on the We Love Kansai tumblr, so check that out if you're looking for more!

Until next time.

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