The Quiet City of Ise Japan

About Ise: An Ise Japan Travel Guide

Ise Japan Map

This city, called Ise, is a part of the Mie Prefecture of Japan. It is most popular for being the home of Japan’s most sacred shrines. The city of Ise used to be known as Ujiyamada and is located at the Honshu Island of Japan. Interestingly, it is well-known in the Japanese Shinto religion that Ise is a “Holy City” or the capital city of the Kami. Because of its place in the Shinto religion, the city of Ise is a popular destination for pilgrims. Every year, thousands of pilgrims visit the city so that they could get a glimpse of Japan’s most sacred shrines.

 Ise Japan Hotels

There are a number of great hotels in the area that can be booked. The best is to look for a nice and simple hotel that is near the city center so that the transportations are accessible. It is so that touring the city would not be difficult as well. Among the popular hotels in the area are the Asahikan, Ise Pearl Pier Hotel, and Hoshidekan.

Festivals in Ise Japan

Cherry Blossom Festival

Usually, at the end of March to the start of April, cherry blossoms bloom best in Ise, Japan. It is the time of year when this place is filled with the beautiful blooms from cherry trees. They are very pretty and picture worthy, people fill the streets just to take photos of the cherry flowers. Usually, the festival is held along the streets of Miyagawa-Tsutsumi and Futami-era.

Ise is actually considered as one of the 100 best spots for viewing cherry blossoms in Japan. This is why going here should be well-planned and organized. During the months of March and April, the place is sure to be filled with people and the crowd will only be larger as the peak of the bloom nears.

Tenno Festival

The Tenno Matsuri, or Tenno Festival, is one of the famous festivals held in Japan. Usually, it is celebrated on the fourth Saturday of July. The Tenno Matsuri is actually a two-day event which is held during the nighttime. Paper lanterns which are used to decorate boats and pagodas are allowed to float down the river.

This particular celebration is meant to honor the deity Gozu Tenno. He is the deity believed to be the Ox Head Heaven King. The presence of the Gozu Tenno is widespread in Kami-Buddhism. It is believed that this deity originated in India before it underwent transformations and reached the shores of both Japan and China.

He is well-known to be associated with the legend of Sominshorai and performed a role of a Trinitarian deity. In modern Japan, he is believed to be the deity of epidemic diseases who protect the locals from any contagious illnesses that can cause widespread deaths.


What is interesting about this particular event is that it is not necessarily a festival or a celebration. It is the act of purifying the inner shrines of the Ise Grand Jingu. Every 20 years, it is believed that the wooden shrine of the sun goddess in the Ise Grand Shrine must be reconstructed using fresh and new lumber. Taken and logged from the mountains of Ise, this lumber will be paraded along the streets until it reaches the shrine. This ritual and practice had been done for the last thousand years and has become a local tradition.

During the time when the Okohiki will be done, everyone from the villages has a role to play. It may be in helping during the construction, in helping bring home the lumber, and the like. A form of sacrifice to appease the sun goddess, the Okohiki will be done once again by the generations to come.

Ise Festival

What is interesting about this place is that there is a two-day celebration in the city held every mid-October to celebrate everything about Ise. They celebrate their language, their culture, and more. There are parades and dances on the streets held by adults and children alike. There are booths of souvenirs, food, and more. This is more of a community activity where children as young as toddlers can join the festivities by playing music and dancing.

Places to go Ise, Japan

Ise Japan Grand Shrine

This place is known in Japan as the Shrine of all the Shrines because it is considered to be the most sacred in the country. It is located in Ise, Japan and it has a significant place in the Shinto religion. What is special about this place is that the entire shrine and temple is rebuilt every two decades as it is tradition to make it out of fresh lumber. This lumber shall be paraded on the streets before being used in the construction. This tradition has been going on for the last thousand years. Because of this special ritual held in the Grand Shrine every 20 years, this place is considered as a member of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan.

The Naiku (Inner Shrine)

This inner shrine is found within the Ise Grand Shrine and was built as a tribute to the sun goddess Amaterasu-Omikami. This shrine is considered as one of the most sacred in all of Japan and it flourishes in its simplicity and elegance. This place is highly visited on a daily basis because of its place in Japan’s history and culture. The peak of visitors is usually expected at the New Year celebrations of every year.  There are smaller shrines all over the city, known as jinjas, which are great tourist destinations.

It is believed that 2000 years ago, the daughter of Emperor Suinin named Princess Yomatohime-no-Mikoto traveled to Mount Miwa to search for a new place to worship the sun goddess. It is believed that the goddess roamed the mountains for twenty years until the princes had found the place for the Naiku. According to literature, the Princess Yomatohime-no-Mikoto claims that she heard the sun goddess whisper to her that Ise will be the perfect place.

The Geku (Outer Shrine)

The outer shrine was built as a tribute to the goddess of clothing, food, and housing. This goddess is well known as Toyouke. Since it is found in the outer portions of the grand shrine, this is the first place most pilgrims visit. Although it is less popular than the inner shrine, it still has a number of things it can boast of. It has gravel pathways which can provide visitors enjoyable, serene walks around the area.

Ise Japan Ship

The Ise Japan ship’s construction started in 1913 ad was completed in 1917. It was one of the most popular lead ships used by the Japanese Navy in the Second World War. It was one of the Japanese ships which served as a pride and glory for all the Japanese. It was 195 meters long that can travel at a maximum speed of 23 knots. Its armament includes 6 twin 356mm guns, 16 units of single 140 mm guns, it also has submerged 533 mm torpedos. It has more armor and armament than described. It was a terror of the seas. However, the ship sank at war on that fateful day of July 1945.

The Wedded Rocks

Known as Meoto Iwa, the wedded rocks are two sacred rocks found off-shore of Ise city. It consists of one large rock, which is believed to represent the husband, and one smaller rock believed to represent the wife. It is called wedded because they are connected by a Shimenawa Rope, a rope that signifies unification and marriage in Japan. These rocks are special to the culture of the Japanese and are actually considered as gods.

A number of visitors go to this place in hopes of catching the sunrise between the two rocks during the summer months. Also, a lot of people like seeing the rocks on high tide because this is the time when the two rocks become distinct with one another.

Ise-Shima National Park

The Ise-Shima National Park is one of the best go-to places in Ise Japan for a short nature trip. It provides scenic mountain views and more.

Ise-Shime Skyline

This skyline is actually a mountain road that leads to the summit of the mountains. The road also connects the towns of Ise and Toba to each other. People go here not just to go to the summit but to also enjoy the beautiful scenery on the way up. In fact, there are car and motorcycle rentals in the area that would take passengers up the summit one way.

Mt. Asama

This particular mountain is the tallest point in all of Ise, Japan. It is actually not a mountain but a volcano found on the island of Honshu. Interestingly, this is the most active volcano in the area. This mountain stands majestically at about 2,500 meters above sea level and is considered as one of Japan’s most famous mountains.

The last it erupted was in 2009 when it started sending ash and rocks to a height of 2km from its crater. In this event, there were numerous volcanic earthquakes. It continuously had small eruptions since then and sent the area within 4 km from a danger zone. Prior this event, the volcano also erupted in 2008, 2004, 1995, 1983, and 1982. Before that the last known eruption of Mt. Asama was in 1783.

The Love River

The Miya River, also known as the Love River, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan. There are sports facilities like basketball courts, tennis courts, and soccer fields in the area. It has crystal clear water which flowed down from the valleys to reach the river and directly flows to Ise Bay. This place is a go-to place for anyone who wishes to go fishing, camping, and more. It is a great place for outdoor activities. What it is most popular for is the cherry blossom viewing parties held in the area which happens every April of every year.


Everyone looking for old-fashioned buildings, houses and structures should go to the small town of Kawasaki. Everyone who visits this place usually enjoys the architecture. It clearly shows a snippet of how life was like in Ise for the past hundred years.

A lot of visitors like going to this place at night because of how the wood from the houses become illuminated from warm light. The streets are narrow and walking around the villages is usually quite enjoyable.   

Notable Influences of Ise Japan: Ise Japanese Menu

Ise Japanese Restaurant NYC (Ise Japanese NYC)

Authentic Japanese food is always in demand, especially for travelers who live outside of the country and yearn for the taste of authentic Japanese food. The Ise Japanese Restaurant in New York was opened in 1988 and they have been serving soba and sushi to their customers for almost 30 years.

It became an immediate favorite, the food was affordable and the service was fast. The restaurant is designed with Japanese architecture with bamboo floors and walls. The food is served in traditional Japanese lacquer. Everyone enjoys eating at the Ise Japanese Restaurant in New York. Among their most popular menu would be the edamame which are boiled soybeans, Sashimi which is raw tuna or fish. They also serve grilled squid, yakitori, and other grilled food.

Ise Japanese Restaurant Cloverdale (Ise Japanese Cloverdale)

Opened much later is another branch of the Ise restaurant which is located in North Carolina. Just like its New York counterpart, they serve sushi, soba, and other authentic Japanese dishes. It is a small hole-in-the-wall that lots of people enjoy. They also serve very generous portions of oriental dishes.

The food is affordable and everyone likes authentic Japanese food. The service is also quite authentic. It used to be known as the Ishi restaurant but its name was changed in the recent years. The best part about it is that the restaurant is not as crowded as other Japanese restaurants. The service is also very fast, there are no lines to wait. People just go here to enjoy the food.