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Mei

Complex geographical feature that cultures pearls - Harmony of the tradition and the modernity
Mie is situated in the center of the Honshu Island (the mainland of Japan), in the eastern part of the Kii-hanto Peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. It is narrow and spreads north to south. Its complex geographical features create a variety of climates.

The southern coastline is an irregular and rugged saw-toothed coast. The eastern coastline is designated as the Ise-Shima National Park, and is famous for cultured pearls, oysters and Ise lobsters made possible by the complex geographical features. The area where designated as the Natural Park is more than one-third of the area of the entire prefecture, and is the second largest park area. There are Uga Valley in the Suzuka Quasi-National Park, Doro Valley, Akame Shiju-hattaki (forty-eight) Falls and many other scenic spots.

The Ise-jingu Shrine, which has been cherished with a nickname "Oise-san" is also called simply "Jungu (the Shrine)". It enshrines the sun goddess Amaterasu O-mikami. Over 6 million worshippers visit here each year. There are also Iga Ninja Museum that exhibits the articles of the Iga Ninja spies who transformed the mountaineering asceticism into developed Ninjutsu and handed it down to generations, Shima Spain Mura, a theme park dedicated to Spain, and the Suzuka Circuit famous for F1 Grand Prix races. Mie is a home for the tradition and the modernity, and welcomes a ceaseless flow of visitors.

Getting there
Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo Station or 55 minutes from Osaka Station to Nagoya Station, then take JR Kansai Main Line or Ise Tetsudo for 58 minutes to Tsu Station.
 

  • Akame Shiju-hattaki Falls
    Continual waterfalls of all sizes, deep torrents and rapidsHome of giant salamanders
    Akame Shiju-hattaki Falls is a collective term for some 50 waterfalls in the 4 kilometers long Taki-gawa Valley formed by a tributary of the Nabari-gawa River. Shiju-hattaki literally means forty-eight falls, this, however, is not the actual number but only connotes "many". It is known from the geological study on the deep basins of the falls that they were formed in prehistoric days.

    The Taki-gawa Valley is noted as the habitat for precious natural monuments, giant salamanders. There is Japan Salamander Center at the gateway to the falls where you can see amphibians from all over the world. The first fall is 2 minutes walk from there. The legend has it that Fudo Myo-o, Buddha of Fire, who is believed to save the people, riding an ox with red eyes revealed himself to a mountaineering ascetic practicer with a magical power En-no-Ozunu during disciplinary practice. The name Akame, or red eyes derives from this legend. As you walk upstream, you will see continual sights of waterfalls, depths and rapids of all sizes. The highlight of the tour is the sights of the Five Major Falls of Akame, namely the Fudo-daki Falls, Senju-daki Falls, Nunobiki-daki Falls, Ninai-daki Falls and Biwa-daki Falls. After those five falls, the Gankutsu-daki Falls concludes the tour with its magnificence.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, then take Kintetsu Nagoya Line from Nagoya Station to Ise Nakagawa Station and transfer to Kintetsu Osaka Line to Akame-guchi Station. It takes 1 hour and 35 minutes. It takes 10 minutes from Akame-guchi Station to the Akame Falls.

     

  • Iga Ueno
    The basin of a birthplace for Iga ninja Haisei-den, shaped to express a figure of Matsuo Basho
    Iga Ueno is situated in western Mie. It is a castle town that spreads in the northern Iga Basin completely surrounded by mountains. The city has a neat grid of streets. The samurai's residences and temple town retain strong reminiscence of the olden days. It is also famous as the birthplace of the Iga ninja spies. Iga is one of the ninjutsu schools completed in the 14th century. The ninjas would infiltrate into the enemy's ground with the objectives of scouting, stratagems, raids, harassing the rear guard and other activities with their special skills called ninjutsu. The Iga Ninja Museum where an actual ninja's residence was transferred, is a must-see place. The Iga Ueno Castle is famous for the highest stonewalls in Japan. These stonewalls were selected as the scene for a movie "Kumonosu-jo" directed by Akira Kurosawa.

    Iga is also noted as the hometown of Matsuo Basho, who created haiku, a unique Japanese style short poetry of 3 lines with 17 syllables, and achieved renovation of the old fashioned haikai, a linked verse. The Haisei-den, or the great haiku poet's shrine was built inside the Ueno Park in 1942 commemorating 300th years since his birth. The building is shaped after the figure of Basho attired in a traveling clothes. The round roof symbolizes his sedge hat, the octagonal eaves take after his surplice, the pillar is his cane, and the frame on the Haisei-den expresses his face. Other Basho related spots include the Minomushi-an, or bagworm hermitage and the Venerable Basho Memorial Hall, Basho-o Kinenkan Museum.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. Then, take JR Kansai Main Line from Nagoya Station to Iga Ueno Station and transfer to Kintetsu Iga Line to Uenoichi Station. It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes.

     

  • Ise
    Meoto-iwa, or the couple rocks, the symbol of IseNaturally carved rocks in strange shapes or in heart-shaped gate
    Ise, located in the northwestern part of Shima-hanto Peninsula in Mie, has prospered as the temple town of Ise-jingu Shrine. Okage-yokocho street, lined with more than thirty souvenir shops and food shops, was created by transporting the 19th and 20th century buildings to this place. It is a popular place to feel the traditional atmosphere of a visit to Ise and a fashion at that time.

    It is said in ancient mythology that Futami-ga-ura was so beautiful that Yamato-hime-no-mikoto, a goddess of ancient mythology, looked back twice to admire that beauty. The name Futami, or looking twice, derives from this story. At the eastern end, there is Meoto-iwa or the couple rocks. The bigger rock Otoko-iwa, the male rock, and the smaller On'na-iwa, the female rock, serve as a natural torii gate (shrine gate) to Okitama Jinseki, or Okitama-iwa rock, the object of worship in Okitama-jinja Shrine. Shima-no-Ishi-mon is a strange, naturally carved rock under the Kanzaki Todai Lighthouse. Do-mon gate is a rock carved naturally by waves into a heart-shape and is hidden underwater, emerging only during the low tide before and after a big tide.

    The Ise-Shima Skyline Route starts from the inner precinct of Ise-jingu Shrine, passes near the top of Mt. Asama-yama, and goes all the way to Toba. It is a very pleasant drive. Kongosho-ji Temple, an Important Cultural Property, is on the Skyline route and the view spot in Tado-Sanjo-koen Park commands a superb view of Toba Bay, Chita-hanto Peninsula and Atsumi-hanto Peninsula. It is worth taking time to see the view.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 1 hour 45 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya Station. From Kintetsu Nagoya Station, 1 hour 20 minutes to Iseshi Station by Kintetsu Line Limited Express. From Osaka-Kamihoncho Station, 1 hour 30 minutes by Kintetsu Line Limited Express to Iseshi Station.

     

  • Ise-jingu Shrine
    A shrine dedicated to the Sun GoddessBustling with worshippers from ancient times to present day
    The Ise-Jingu Shrine is the core of sightseeing in Ise. It is simply referred to as Jingu (the Shrine), and enshrines the Sun Goddess Amaterasu O-mikami. Over 6 million worshippers visit here every year. The main shrine has the elevated floor in the Shinmei zukuri style, which is the oldest shrine architecture style.

    The inner shrine in the Ise-jingu Shrine was constructed in 2 BC. It had been an especially sacred shrine and commoners had not been allowed to enter, but the ban was lifted in the 12th century, and since then the area has been thronged with worshippers. The shrine celebrates annual rituals. The most prominent festival is the Sengu Festival associated with Shikinen-sengu Ceremony, the installation of the deity in a new shrine with due ceremony. This festival has been held every 20 years when the shrine buildings are rebuilt and the Shinto ceremonies are transferred from the old shrine to the new shrine. There are many other rituals and ceremonies handed down in this shrine from ancient times.

    It is customary to start the worship procedure from visiting the Gekuu, or the outer shrine. You cleanse your hands and mouth at the Temizu-sha washbasin and then worship the Shogu, the main shrine. There is a Magatama-ike Pond in the Betsugu, the annex shrine, a spot for relaxation and recreation for the local people. You take a bus from Gekuu for 20 minutes to reach the gateway to the inner shrine, Ujihashi Bridge. This bridge is said to separate the secular world and the sacred world. You walk the right side of the bridge. You will see another washbasin, Mitarashi, where you should cleanse your hands and mouth and approach the main shrine.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. Then, take a limited express on Kintetsu Line for 1 hour and 20 minutes from Kintetsu Nagoya Station to Iseshi Station. If you are coming from Osaka, take an express on Kintetsu Line from Kamihoncho Station in Osaka to Iseshi Station. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.

     

  • Kumano
    The saw-toothed coastline facing Kumano-nada Sea Scenic spot of bluffs, strange rocks and caves
    Kumano City is located in the southern part of Mie and faces the Kumano-nada Sea in the east. The northern area is saw-toothed coastline with rough bluffs, but the southern coast has lightly curving sand beaches. Higashi-Kumano-kaido, one of the old Kumano routes that was used by visitors paying respect to Kumano-sanzan (the three shrines of Kumano Hongu-taisha, Kumano Hayatama-taisha and Kumano Nachi-taisha) used to pass along the coast.

    On the shores facing the Kumano-nada Sea, many scenic spots can be found, such as Tate-ga-saki, where 70 to 100-meter-high granite bluffs continue for 600 meters and Oni-ga-jo where countless small caves and holes are carved by erosion on the cliffs. A promenade is provided for more than 1 kilometer at Oni-ga-jo and visitors can go on a 40 minutes tour to the big cave of Senjojiki and around the unusual rocks Inu-modori and Hachi-no-su-kutsu and others. The contrast of the green pine trees that line the beach and the blue of the sea water make Hichirimi-hama Beach, that stretches southward from Oni-ga-jo for 25 kilometers, a most beautiful scenic place.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, 1 hour 45 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya Station. From Nagoya Station, 3 hours 40 minutes to Kumano-shi Station by JR Kisei Honsen Line via JR Kansai Honsen Line.

     

  • Nagashima-onsen Hot Spring
    A riverside district spreads out to the delta by three rivers - An area with a huge spa and an a amusement park
    Nagashima-cho Town is located in the northeastern part of Mie in a delta area by Kiso-gawa River, and Ibi-gawa River. Since the land is low, people built a bank called Waju in order to develop farms and to protect them. Farmers still make furrows high (which is called "taka-une zukuri"). Also, the riverside farm scene remains as in old days with paddy field boats carrying seedling and manure in rice fields.

    In the southern part of Nagashima, there is Nagashima-onsen Hot Spring that has the amusement park and recreation center. The site is 630,000 square meters large and is the largest in kind in the Tokai region (the Pacific Ocean Coast of central Japan). There, 60 degrees centigrade of hot spring gushes out 10,000 tons per day from 1,600 meters below ground. There is a spa called Sen'nin (1000-person) Onsen where up to 2000 people can bathe at the same time. The amusement park has over 30 different, latest kinds of amusement facilities that both adults and children can enjoy. One of the attraction rides called "White Cyclone " can run through 1,715 meters of a stretch in 3 minutes, at the top speed of 102 kilometers per hour. During summer season, a jumbo seawater pool and 10 other different types of swimming pools and 18 different kinds, 55 lanes of water slides are open, and crowded with family and young visitors.

    Getting there
    By JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. For 55 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Nagoya Station. By JR Kansai Main Line for 30 minutes from Nagoya Station to Nagashima Station.

     

  • Shima
    Internationally famous sightseeing spot with diversified coastline
    The Shima-hanto Peninsula is situated at the eastern edge of the Kii-hanto Peninsula. It juts out straight into the Pacific Ocean from the central Mie. It has a complex saw-toothed coastline with a number of bays and inlets, including the Matoya Bay, famous for cultured oysters and the Ago Bay, an Aegean Sea of Japan. The entire peninsula is designated as the Ise-Shima National Park for its diversified coastline. It is an internationally famous sightseeing spot, along with the Ise-jingu Shrine.

    The Ago Bay located in the southern Shima-hanto Peninsula has over 60 islets of all sizes. It is famous as the first place in the world to have produced cultured pearls. The scene drawn by the pearl rafts floating on the calm sea is impressive. It is also called Bay of Pearls. You can also enjoy the view of the Ago Bay from the sea on a pleasure boat on the Espana Cruise that starts from the largest islet in the bay, the Kashiko-jima Island.

    There is a theme park called Shima Spain Mura Village, which reproduces the famous places and townscape of Spain. Visitors can have a taste of the charms of Spain with the buildings, food and parades, and enjoy the rides in the amusement park. It is always thronged with people of all ages.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station. Then, take a limited express on Kintetsu Line for 2 hours from Kintetsu Nagoya Station to Kashiko-jima Station. If you are coming from Osaka, take a limited express on Kintetsu Line for 2 hours and 20 minutes from Kamihoncho Station to Kashiko-jima Station.

     

  • Toba
    The island, the birthplace of Cultured PearlsAma, or woman divers dive in the sea
    Toba, located at the north-eastern end of Shima-hanto Peninsula in Mie, flourished as the castle town of the Kuki family who ruled this region from the 17th century. It was also a landing spot for visitors on the sea route to Ise-jingu Shrine and belongs to Ise-Shima National Park.

    Mikimoto Shinju-to Island, Iruka-to Island and many other islands are in Ise Bay. Pearl Bridge connects the town and Mikimoto Shinju-to Island, the place where Kokichi Mikimoto succeeded in culturing pearls for the first time in the world in 1893. There is a model factory and a Pearl Museum on the island and visitors can watch the processing of pearls and an ama, or a woman diver, diving. Toba Suizoku-kan Aquarium has more than 850 kinds of sea creatures kept in environment closest to their original habitats.

    Fishing villages such as Ijika and Adako line the east coast of Shima-hanto Peninsula, between Imaura, in the southeastern part of the city of Toba, and Ugata. Ama who collects abalone and seaweed are actively diving, and restaurants scattered in the area serve very fresh seafood.

    Getting there
    From Tokyo Station, an hour 45 minutes by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya Station. From Kintetsu Nagoya Station, an hour 35 minutes to Toba Station by Kintetsu Line Limited Express. From Osaka-Kami-honcho Station, an hour 45 minutes by Kintetsu Line Limited Express to Toba Station.

     

  • Yunoyama-onsen Hot Spring
    Hot spring discovered by a sight of bathing deer - Treasury of alpine animals and plants, Mt. Gozaisho-yama
    Yunoyama-onsen is a hot spring resort dotted with inns on the slope with the altitude of 318 meters along the Mitaki-gawa River in the north Mie. The legend has it that the hot spring was discovered from a sight of bathing deer in the 8th century, and Yunoyama-onsen is thus also known as the Deer Hot Spring. A ceaseless flow of visitors come all seasons to enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, cool climate in summer, coloring leaves in autumn and skiing and trees covered with frozen mist in winter as well as the wonderful panoramic view of the Ise Bay.

    In the neighboring areas, there is Ao-taki Falls with 50-meter head, and the Sangaku-ji Temple celebrates Sohei-matsuri Festival in autumn. Sohei means soldier monks engaged in battles. The climax of the festival is the parade of flaming palanquin carried by monks in the sohei costume.

    Mt. Gozaisho-yama is a beautiful peak in the Suzuka Mountain Range, and is a treasury of alpine animals and plants. You can reach the top from the hot spring resort by ropeway and lift. The altitude of the mountaintop is 1,210 m, and you can enjoy the magnificent panoramic view all around. There is the only zoo in the world dedicated to serows and the "Japan Serow Center", a museum exhibiting the seasonal sights, geographical features, flora, insects, birds and small animals of Mt. Gozaisho-yama halfway up the mountain.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 1 hour and 40 minutes from Tokyo Station or for 55 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Nagoya Station. Then, take Kintetsu Line for 1 hour from Nagoya Station to Yunoyama-onsen Station, and a bus for 10 minutes from Yunoyama-onsen Station to Yunoyama-onsen

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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