A exclusive Shinto Shrine? The Ise Grand Shrine
The Ise Grand Shrine located in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture, Japan is one of the holiest Shinto shrines in Japan, hosting Amaterasu-ōmikami, or the sun goddess. One of the three sacred treasures that make up the imperial regalia of Japan, the mirror Yata no Kagami, which represents wisdom is believed to be stored here in the Ise Grand Shrine.
The Shrine is of high cultural, religious, traditional and historical values, and is definitely worth a visit if you’re around. It is very easy to get to because of its popularity and importance within the Japanese community.
After walking through the Okage Yokocho ancient street, you would arrive at the Ise Grand Shrine. The Ise Grand Shrine consists of two main areas, the Naikū and Gekū (aka the inner shrine and the outer shrine). The Outer Shrine, Gekū, is located around 6km from the Naikū and is dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest and industry.
The actual shrine in Naikū is not accessible, tourists and locals alike. No one other than members of the Japanese imperial family and few select priests could enter. You are also not allowed to take pictures of the main shrine buildings, with a wall blocking your view of the shrine itself (you could only see the roof of the building).
If you can’t see the shrine, why should you visit then? Well, apart from its historical values, the surrounding buildings, the Gekū, and the Okage Yokocho all poses as incredible reasons to visit. The history, architecture, people and peaceful mood is one that could only be found here at the Ise Grand Shrine.
The Japanese way of worship (Shinto) TL;DR:
Normally before entering and praying at the shrine, there would be a “water fountain” like area called a “temizuya”, where people purify themselves by washing their hands and mouth using the water inside and the spoons provided.
Then you would enter into the shrine where you should first put a little change into the red box (donation to the gods) and ring the bell. Bow twice then clap your hands twice to signal your presence to the deity. After praying to the gods, bow one last time and leave.
How to get there:
If you’ve rented a car, driving is the most ideal way of transportation to the Ise Grand Shrine. To best enjoy the Ise Grand Shrine, you would have to park your car at one of the dedicated parking lots for the Ise Grand Shrine, from which you could then walk to the Shrine on a path full of historical buildings, artistic shops, and mouthwatering food, more on that later. (Address of shrine at the bottom)
If you are living in one of the major cities around Ise-Shima, like Osaka and Nagoya, you could take the train on the Kintetsu line to one of these stations Ise-shi (M73)/Uji-Yamada (M74)/Isuzugawa (M75) and walk to the Shrine from there. Taking the train is the fastest and easiest transit option to the Shrine.
If you are heading there from around the Chubu Centrair International Airport, you could take the ferry to Tsu, and head to Ise and Toba using a highway bus.
Ise Grand Shrine
Address: 1 Ujitachicho, Ise, Mie 516-0023, Japan
Phone: +81 596-24-1111
Service Hour: 5 AM - 6 PM
For dates of rituals and ceremonies see: https://www.isejingu.or.jp/en/ritual/index.html
For information on Okage Yokocho: https://www.sgdym-dw.com/post/okage-yokocho-mochi-gyudon-and-more