Ise Grand Shrine, or Ise Jingu, is considered to be Japan’s most sacred shrine. Jingu is not a single place, but a huge complex of shrines through the area centered around Geku (the outer shrine) and Naiku (the inner shrine). Naiku houses Amaterasu-Omikami, the sun goddess and the ancestor of the Japanese imperial line.
Geku and Naiku both were designed and built before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, so the architecture is pure, old-style Shinto. Ise Jingu is also special in that a new Naiku and Geku are built every 20 years and the old one torn down. If you’re lucky, you can visit when two shrines are standing at the same time.
This is the goshuin for Naiku. As usual for old Shinto shrines, the style is very simple.
We first went to Geku, which is near the station.
Naiki is quite far from the station, so I suggest you ride the bus or take a taxi.
The Naiku grounds are big. You’re going to walk for quite a while. You start by walking across the Uji-bashi bridge. The river underneath it, the Isuzugawa River, separates the sacred area of Naiku from the normal realm. The bridge is a sacred walkway into the land of the gods. Like Naiku and Geku, it is torn down and rebuilt every 20 years.
We were lucky that April 29, 2018, they were doing a special spring butterfly dance on stage.
After our visit to the shrine, we stopped at Okageyokocho Street for lunch. In addition to akafuku, which we had after visiting Geku, Ise is famous for Ise udon and tokonezushi, which is a bowel of sushi rice with tuna on top.