Day 1: Afternoon tour
in Ise-Jingu Grand Shrine and Okage-Yokocho Shopping Street
You’ll travel from Tokyo Station to Ise-shi Station by “Shinkansen” (bullet train) and JR Express Train. (Total travel time: approx. 3 hours 20 minutes.)
Your first destination is Ise-Jingu Shinto Shrine. Shinto is the indigenous faith of the Japanese. It is a way of life and a way of thinking that is an integral part of Japanese culture. Observing the Shingo faith means worshipping ancestors as guardians of the family and also means showing respect for the myriad deities residing in the natural world.
There are deities of mountains and the sea, deities of rain, wind, thunder, water, flowers and rocks. They are all around us in everything and every person so they may be worshipped anywhere. However, many people visit Shinto shrines to pray, cleansing their hands and mouth at the entrance to purify the body and mind.
Shinto Shrines are called “jinja” in Japanese. There are 80,000 jinja in Japan today where various deities are enshrined. Jinja are sacred places and are always kept clean and pure. Often surrounded by trees, jinja are infused with the divine energy of nature.
Ise-Jingu, officially “Jingu”, includes 125 jinja dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu-omikami. It is roughly the same size as Paris. More than 1,500 rituals are conducted here yearly to pray for the prosperity of the Imperial family and the peace of the nation.
Amaterasu-Omikami was formerly worshiped in the Imperial Palace, but following an epidemic, the 10th Emperor decided to move her symbol, the sacred mirror, that she might be worshiped more respectfully and thus end the disaster. It was the 11th Emperor who ordered his princess, Yamatohime-no-mikoto, to see the most appropriate place to permanently enshrine and worship Amaterasu-Omikami. It is said that the princess traveled the land searching for this special place until she received a revelation by the banks of Isuzugawa River. This is origin of Naiku (Inner Shrine) of Jingu you will visit this afternoon.
After Ise Jingu’s Naiku (inner shrine), you’ll have the opportunity to pick up locally crafted products and food in the Okage-yokocho shopping street, which was built to reflect the atmosphere of the Edo and Meiji periods and to reconstruct the old towns. You will feel the nostalgia of old-town Ise.
You’ll arrive at your ryokan by 4pm and have traditional Japanese cuisine called Kaiseki before relaxing in a natural hot spring bath.
Suggested lunch: Traditional local cuisine called Mehari-Zushi (Sushi)
Suggested dinner: Traditional local cuisine and sake at your ryokan (Japanese inn)
Suggested accommodation: Yumeyuuka, Shimakanko Hotel The Classic, Amanemu, Nemu, The Earth