Ise Japan – Located in the Mie Prefecture of Japan, Ise is a costal city that’s best known for its impressively large Shinto shrine, Ise Jingu. Altogether, Ise is home to over 100 different shrines located throughout the city. Even if you’re not looking to visit more than a handful of different shrines while traveling through Ise, there’s plenty of other activities and attractions that are sure to be fun and interesting.
For the best tips on how to get to Ise, where to stay, and what to do during your travels, read on.
Ise Japan – How to get there?
To get to Ise from Tokyo, simply take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line to Nagoya. The trip is only about two to three hours long. After reaching Nagoya, the Mie Rapid Train can be used to get to Iseshi Station in about an hour and a half.
Flights and buses are available from Tokyo to Nagoya, and driving is also an option. Flights are about an hour in length, whereas buses and cars will take anywhere from six to ten hours to reach Ise.
Leaving Shin Osaka Station on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen takes about one hour to reach Nagoya. After arriving, the Mie Rapid Train can take you the rest of the way to Iseshi Station.
There are buses available that take about four hours to arrive at Ise, and driving by car will take a little over two hours total for the trip.
Ise Japan – Where to stay?
Guest House Ise Japan – Hoshidekan
Only 500 meters away from Kintetsu Iseshi Station, Hoshidekan is the perfect place to stay for visitors who want to be close to the heart of the city. The house is spacious, well furnished, and decorated in the traditional Japanese style. Staff are always warm and welcoming, and can even speak English to better communicate with guests. There is a communal bath, and all rooms have paper screens and tatami flooring with a low wooden table.
Why Guests Love It: Guests loved the authentic Japanese look and feel of the guesthouse, and were especially delighted by the location of the house in the city. Meal plans are available, and Japanese breakfasts are served in the dining room. Bathrooms and toilets are shared, but there are private baths that guests are free to use.
Book It Now: Hoshidekan
Hotel Ise Japan – Sanco Inn Ise-Ekimae Shikinoyu
As with most hotels in Japan, the rooms of the Sanco Inn Hotel are adequately stocked and furnished, though not as spacious as guesthouses or ryokans. All rooms are equipped with a TV and private bathroom, as well as a desk and kettle. The hotel is also located just 7 kilometers from Ise Grand Shrine, making it easily accessible and close to the center of the city. WiFi is free throughout the hotel, and a lovely buffet breakfast is offered to all guests. You can also enjoy this lovely public bath for a moment of relaxation.
Why Guests Love It: The staff are exceptionally helpful and kind, and go the extra mile to ensure every guest is satisfied with their stay. The rooms are clean, quiet, safe, and comfortable. The buffet breakfast features traditional Japanese cuisine, and there are public baths that guests are free to use. Complementary coffee is served throughout the day as well for those that need a little extra pick me up.
Book It Now: Sanco Inn Ise-Ekimae Shikinoyu
Ryokan Ise Japan – Hinode Ryokan
Iseshi Station can be reached in two minutes by walking from Hinode Ryokan, and Geku Shrine is only a five-minute walk away. The ryokan has tatami flooring throughout and traditional Japanese futons for sleeping in. Each room has a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, low table, cushions, and electric kettle. Bathrooms and toilets are shared with all guests. For those who want to cruise around town, bike rentals are also offered to guests.
Why Guests Love It: Table tennis tables are set up and available for guest use, and authentic Japanese meals can be eaten within guest rooms for privacy. The owner goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that all guests are safe and satisfied with their stay, and staff are just as friendly and welcoming. The public bathing is small but cozy, and is a great way to relax after seeing the sights that Ise has to offer.
Book It Now: Hinode Ryokan
Things to do in Ise Japan #1: Ise Grand Shrine
Said to be the number one thing to see in Ise, this amazing 7th-century Shinto shrine has multiple temples within it and is surrounded by a forest and river. Although the trek to the shrine isn’t the easiest, many people say that the journey is worth every single step. The shrine is to be taken very seriously, as it’s one of the most famous in all of Japan and deserves respect from visitors.
Photos are not permitted in certain places, so please ensure you are respectful and follow all posted rules on signs.
Things to do in Ise Japan #2: Geku Shrine
Geku Shrine is a historic shrine that embodies the spirit of Japanese culture and traditions. The shrine is quiet and peaceful, and guests enjoy the tranquility of the place. Guests can also enjoy the natural sights and sounds inside and around the shrine. A gorgeous pond reflects the surrounding landscapes, making for a wonderful photo opportunity for travelers. As the shrine is only a ten-minute walk from the nearest station, it’s easy to visit this massive shrine from anywhere in Ise.
Due to the fact that Geku Shrine is one of the more respected shrines in the area, visitors are expected to be polite and refrain from being disruptive in public. The shrine is never seriously busy or crowded, which makes it relaxing to visit.
Spot #3: Ise Sea Paradise
As Ise is located right next to the sea, this aquarium is full of fun and exciting creatures and animals that can be interacted with. Visitors can play catch with dolphins, have their picture taken with certain animals, and watch shows that feature amazing marine animals in action. Guests are always delighted by the dancing walruses, and getting up-close to small, cute penguins is exciting and fun.
Although the animals are the stars of the show, the real heroes are the amazing staff members who ensure the creatures are always well-maintained and happy.
Things to do in Ise Japan #4: Mt. Asamagatake
More outdoorsy tourists will enjoy hiking up Mt. Asamagatake in search of the perfect view from the summit. The lush, green scenery changes throughout the year, and many guest come back time and time again to see such changes in person. From the summit of Mt. Asamagatake, visitors can look over Toba to Iragomisaki, a sight that’s hard to find anywhere else.
It’s especially important to bring proper footwear on hikes to prevent blisters and other unwanted injuries. Along with bringing proper footwear, it’s also important to dress for the weather. Due to elevation, even the summer seasons can seem a bit mild or cold.
Things to do in Ise Japan #5: Meoto Iwa
An interestingly placed Shinto shrine, Meoto Iwa is known for the two “wedded rocks” protruding from the ocean nearby. Adorned by multitudes of frog sculptures, this shrine is both fun and interesting to explore. Many guests like to walk along the sand of the beach without shoes to feel the cool water of the waves while taking in the beauty of the landscape.
The shrine is known as a place to pray for lasting relationships, making it a very popular destination for couples and loved ones to visit. Just as the two rocks in the ocean are tied together and “wedded”, so too are people who truly love and care for each other; that philosophy is exactly what the shrine symbolizes and promotes.
Spot #6: Isuzu Park
Close to Ise Shrine, Isuzu Park is best known for the beautiful cherry trees that bloom every year around the park. Many people prefer to come after the cherry blossom season has passed, as there is an equally beautiful changing of the leaves on the trees that signifies autumn has begun. The park is popular for having enough space to preform a multitude of outdoor activities, but also boasts interesting sights to take in as well.
In case you’re planning on driving to see the park, the parking lot fills up quickly with tourists who use it to go to Ise Shrine. It’s recommended to come early if you’re planning on parking, or just to walk or talk public transportation to beat the rush and filled car parks.
Things to do in Ise Japan #7: Tsukiyomi-No-Miya Shrine
This quiet, serene shrine is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing walk that’s filled with Japanese culture, history, and tradition. The shrine is dedicated to worshiping Tsukiyomi-no-mikoto, who is the moon god and younger brother of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. The street in which the shrine is located, Kamijidori Street, is said to the the street that the gods themselves walk along; guests are supposed to refrain from walking in the middle of the road as as to not upset the gods.
Even though Tsukiyomi-no-Miya is located so close to the center of Ise, the stillness of the air and calmness of the atmosphere makes guests believe that they are far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Things to do in Ise Japan #8: Okageza Folklore Center
This charming museum is sure to entertain and delight guests of all ages. Situated in a small Japanese village setting, the museum makes learning about the gods and “Japanese secrets” fun and entertaining. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Japanese mythology, but also makes sure that the subjects don’t come across as boring or hard to understand. Even those that can’t understand Japanese are sure to learn something they didn’t know before about Japanese history and beliefs.
Spot #9: Okage Yokocho Ancient Street
For the shopaholics on vacations, Okage Yokocho Ancient Street is the perfect place to pick up curiosities and souvenirs. There’s loads of great food to be bought from stalls, and various vendors sell different items at any given time. No matter how many times a person visits the street, they might never have the same experience twice. Though many of the venders prefer to sell traditional Japanese goods, some have funny or entertaining items available for purchase as well.
If you’re worried about breaking the bank during an all-out shopping spree, fear not; prices are fair, and every item is absolutely worth its price.
Things to do in Ise Japan #10: Asama Mountain View Point
Although many people come to the Asama Mountain View Point to snag some gorgeous pics of nearby Mt. Asama, others are drawn in by the relaxing atmosphere, good coffee, and rejuvenating foot onsen. An onsite dining area and shop are useful in giving viewers the energy they need to reach the observation deck to get the perfect view of Ise Bay and surrounding areas. The sight of land next to sea is a wondrous one to take in, and many visitors can’t seem to get enough pictures of the scenery.
The best time to get the most beautiful views are during the spring and summer seasons, though autumn and winter are less busy and crowded.
Although Ise has hundreds of shrines throughout the city, visitors have a wide variety of places to visit that don’t have to be spiritual sites. Many people overlook the small city of Ise, but there are still masses of tourists that prefer to visit the small city over many others in Japan due to the rich culture and beautiful scenery. Thankfully, almost everything in the city is relatively easy to access from the city center and we are sure you are going to love Ise after your trip.
By the way, if you are looking for more places off-the-beaten-track, feel free to read this blog post too: Japan Countryside.