Located in Mie Prefecture, the Ise Grand Shrine is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess. Supposedly, the shrine or “Jingu” as it is commonly called, is home to the Sacred Mirror; this mirror was the one that drew Amaterasu from hiding and brought light back to the world. In reality, Ise Jingu is a complex of shrines centered around two main shrines, Naiku and Geku.
The inner shrine is Naiku, said to be where Amaterasu dwells even today. Whereas the outer shrine, Geku, is located about six kilometers from Naiku and dedicated to Toyouke-Omikami, the god of agriculture, rice, and harvest. There are an additional 123 shrines in Ise City surrounding both Naiku and Geku. The shrine buildings at Naiku and Geku are rebuilt every 20 years based upon a Shinto belief of death and renewal.
The shrine was established in 4 BCE when Princess Yamatohime no Mikoto wandered for twenty years looking for a place to worship the sun goddess. Upon arriving in Ise, Yamatohime received a message from Amaterasu saying that this was the land where she wished to reside. Today, only a person of the royal lineage may be the high priest or priestess of Ise Jingu.
Hidden in Oharai, a small town near Ise Jingu, the Okage Yokocho (gratitude side street) opened in 1993. Here, the buildings are constructed in reverence to the gods of the Shinto shrines of Ise. You’ll find souvenir shops and restaurants aplenty along this old-fashioned side street—it’s open daily from 9:30 to 5:30 pm.
The inner and outer shrines are some 6 kilometers apart, therefore it's recommended that you visit by bus. Buses depart from Ujiyamada and Iseshi stations.
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Tsumugiya, an artsy guesthouse in Ise town
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A walk along Oharaimachi, Ise Shrine's old shopping street