Roof of Naiku's Grand Shrine

Ise (伊勢市 Ise-shi) is a city in Mie prefecture, Japan. Ise is primarily known for the eponymous Ise Shrine, arguably the holiest and most important Shinto site and the reputed home of the Emperor's Sacred Mirror.


According to the official chronology, Ise Shrine ( Ise-jingū) was originally constructed in the year 4 BC. Most historians date the shrines from several hundred years later, with 690 AD widely considered the date when the shrines were first built in their current form. They are mentioned in the annals of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki, dating from 712. Sacred objects of the royal family reside within, including a covered mirror which has reportedly not been looked into for over a thousand years. The shrines are famously dismantled and rebuilt to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense.

The present buildings, dating from 2013, are the 62nd iteration to date and are scheduled for rebuilding in 2033. Many festivals will precede the next rebuilding; the most impressive of these, the "tree-pulling" festival Okihiki (御木曳) in which lumber is ceremoniously carted to the shrine, is next anticipated in 2026-2027.

Get in

Travelers should take note that on 26 May and 27 May 2016, the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit will be held in Ise. You may wish to defer trips to and around Ise during this time - there will be heightened security and possible travel restrictions.

By plane

The closest international airport to Ise is Chubu Centrair International Airport south of Nagoya. High-speed ferries run hourly from the airport's dock across Ise Bay to Tsu (津) in 45 minutes (¥2470). From the port, a local bus travels to Tsu train station (¥200) from which Ise can be reached in 35 minutes by Kintetsu Railway (¥620; transfer may be necessary). A small number of ferries continue to Matsusaka, which is slightly closer to Ise.

The alternative is to simply take the Meitetsu μ-SKY train from the airport to Nagoya, and continue to Ise using one of the options below.

By train

Kintetsu Railway's Shimakaze train

Ise's main train station is Iseshi (伊勢市), which is served by Japan Railways and the private Kintetsu Railway. Another useful station is Uji-Yamada (宇治山田), which is served by Kintetsu and is the next station after Iseshi.

Kintetsu offers access to Ise through their direct limited express services from Nagoya (85 minutes, ¥2770), Kyoto (2 hours, ¥3620) and Namba in Osaka (1 hour 50 minutes, ¥3120). Some trains have a premium Deluxe Car which requires an additional surcharge for seating. One service, the Shimakaze (しまかぜ), operates with all-premium seating, also requiring an additional surcharge. Tourists can purchase the Kintetsu Rail Pass for ¥3800, which is cheaper than a round-trip to Ise from all three cities. The pass includes coupons for up to three trips on limited express trains, though these coupons cannot be used for Deluxe Car seats or the Shimakaze.

JR trains run hourly rapid services to Iseshi from Nagoya (90 minutes, ¥2000 unreserved seat, ¥2520 reserved seat). The fastest option by JR from the Shinkansen is to change to the rapid train in Nagoya, as a trip around the Kii peninsula on other JR services will take much longer.

Holders of the Japan Rail Pass must pay a small ¥510 surcharge, since trains partially use the private Ise Railway on the journey. The surcharge can be avoided by taking the less-frequent Nanki (南紀) limited express from Nagoya to Taki (多気) and changing to a local train to Iseshi, though this will extend the travel time to 2 hours.

By bus

Willer Express operates overnight bus service from Tokyo to Ise. Buses leave from the Willer Bus Terminal near Shinjuku Station, as well as from nearby Kawasaki. Weekday, non-peak fares start at around ¥4700, and the trip is valid with Willer's Japan Bus Pass.

Seibu and Mie Kotsu operate two overnight bus services to Ise - one departs from Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, and the other leaves from Ikebukuro and Yokohama. Weekday, non-peak fares start at around ¥7200.

Get around

A regular bus service operates between Ise Station and Naiku. Another option for those who want to explore the area further is the CAN Bus day pass. This provides unlimited travel around the Ise, the Futami area, and Toba. A 1 day pass is ¥1000 for adults, ¥500 for children. A 2 day pass is ¥1600 and ¥800. More bus and railway ticket information online.


Meoto Iwa
  • Gekū (Outer Shrine; 外宮). Dedicated to the goddess of food, clothing, and housing, Toyouke-o-mikami. Accordingly, there are snacks and souvenirs available at a stand near the main gate. The smaller of the two, this is a 5-minute walk from Ise Station.
  • Naikū (Inner Shrine; 内宮) (The shuttle bus from Geku to here takes 15 minutes and costs ¥410.). Dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu-o-mikami, and is the larger and more important of the two. There are a few ponds full of colorful carp, and the river that runs nearby has the less colorful ones who didn't make the cut.




Ise udon

The local specialty is Japanese spiny lobster, known as Ise-ebi (伊勢海老, lit. "Ise shrimp") in Japanese. Fresh lobster sashimi in particular is sublime, but as you might expect such pleasures don't come cheap. Other local specialities include Ise udon, a very simple dish of thick noodles in a strong flavored sauce, garnished with spring onion. It can be ordered from the restaurants around Naiku for ¥300-400.

Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy akafuku (赤福), a mochi rice cake wrapped in red bean jam. With complimentary green tea akafuku costs ¥280 (for three) at stalls around Naiku. You can also buy it boxed at Iseshi Station and Ujiyamada Station.





Go next

Routes through Ise

Kameyama Tsu ← Matsuzaka  N  S  END

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, March 11, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.