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The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

With a history that dates all the way back to the 3rd century, the Ise Grand Shrine (also known as Ise Jingu) is one of both Mie and Japan’s oldest sites and considered to be Japan’s most sacred Shinto Shrine. It’s the home of Japan’s predominant Shinto religion and draws an astonishing six million pilgrims and visitors per year. If you do find yourself in Mie, you really can’t miss the opportunity to visit this serene site.

  • The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    Ise Jingu is actually a complex of 125 shrines dotted throughout Ise City. However the two major sites are Naiku (the inner shrine) and Geku (the outer shrine). The inner shrine holds an enshrinement of the sun goddess Amaterasu, and was once said to have held the Sacred Mirror of the Emperor, one of the three sacred treasures of Japan. It’s said that the mirror known in Japanese as “Yata no Kagami” was gifted to Japan’s first emperor by the goddess herself. For this reason it’s considered one of the holiest sites in the country. Located six kilometers from the inner shrine sits Geku, which is equally impressive in terms of nature and architecture.

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    One of the most fascinating aspects of both the inner and outer shrines is that every 20 years they’re both rebuilt from scratch, as well as the nearby Uji Bridge. Though from an outsider’s perspective it seems like a rather strange action, the rebuilding is part of an ancient Shinto tradition built around the Shinto ideologies of rebirth, and the rejuvenating qualities of the impermanence of nature. The exact recreated shrines are built offsite using only traditional techniques, and then later transported to their new location.

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    Once their replacements are in place, the wood from the old shrines is repurposed, crafted into the torii (shrine gate) you see standing tall at the entrances of the shrines. All the leftover wood is then dispersed between a number of other smaller shrines throughout the area and wider Japan. It doesn’t take very long to walk through the grounds as access is limited, but do take your time to really explore the main shrines and their surrounds, as there is a lot to take in. The main pathway leading through the area is flanked by hills densely populated with a large collection of Japanese cypress trees.

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    Most people begin their exploration of Ise Jingu from the nearby Uji Bridge, which stretches across the Isuzu River. From the bridge to the inner shrine the journey typically around fifteen minutes. The main shrine is only partially exposed to the public, as its inner sanctum is strictly reserved for a select few shrine priests and the imperial family. Taking photos of the main shrine buildings are also prohibited, adding to the sacred and mysterious atmosphere of the area.

    The shrine grounds are home to a huge number of spiritual rituals and celebrations all year round many of which are based on the cycle of rice cultivation. Kanname-sai is the most important ceremony on the shrine’s calendar. Held in October it’s a celebration of gratitude for the first rice harvest of the season.

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    The Sacred Ise Grand Shrine

    Sitting a few kilometers outside of central Ise, the main inner shrine area is best accessed via bus from Ise-shi Station, or Ujiyamada Station, it takes about 10 minutes and costs around 430 yen each way. If you’re traveling from Isuzugawa Station you can also take the bus, the ride takes about six minutes and costs 230 yen. If you have the time and energy it may also be worth walking from Isuzugawa Station, the journey will take around 35-45 minutes and allows you to walk through the main pilgrimage street which is certainly worth it.

    Ise Jingu
    Address
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Ujitachichou 1
    Phone
    0596241111
    Ise Jingu Naiku
    Address
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Ujitachichou 1
    Phone
    0596241111
    Address
    三重県伊勢市豊川町279
    Phone
    0596241111
    Ujibashi Bridge
    Address
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Ujitachichou
    Phone
  • Iseshi
    Address
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Fukiage 1-chome
    Phone
    Ujiyamada
    Address
    Mie Pref. Iseshi Iwabuchi 2-chome
    Phone
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