Ise is one of the most sacred cities in Japan and the Ise Shrine is one of the most sacred shrines in Japan. Here you can visit the Outer Shrine and the Inner Shrine. The Outer Shrine is dedicated to Toyuke no Omikami, the goddess of the harvest. The Inner Shrine dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, believed to be the ancestor of the Japanese royal family. First established 2,000 years ago, the shrines are ritually rebuilt every 20 years with the last rebuilding taking place in 2013. The two shrines are located a few kilometres apart from each other, and the usual way to walk from one to the other is to follow Oharaimachi street. Nearly one kilometre long, it is lined by many traditional style buildings, housing shops and restaurants. Some of the businesses found here have been serving pilgrims and tourists for several centuries. At the end of Oharaimachi you can catch a bus to the Inner Shrine (about 15 minutes). We will supply you with a two-day Ise Free Kippu pass to get around the area.
One of the main reasons to visit Ise to spend time with the Ama Pearl divers (literally translated as ‘woman of the sea’) and learn about their very different and unique way of life. The women divers specialise in free diving up to 30 meters down into cold water without using oxygen tanks or other breathing equipment. The Ama use special techniques to hold their breath for up to 2 minutes at a time as they would gather abalone, seaweed and other shellfish. The most amazing thing about Ama is the old age to which these women are able to keep diving with the majority aged in their 50s and 60s and some divers continuing to dive well into their 70s and there are records dating the practice back to 750 AD.
There are also a number of popular Hiking trails in the hills and a trek up the 500 metre peak at Mount Asama affords some very impressive views of the coastline.