Ise Jingu is a complex of 125 Shinto shrines that includes Kotai Jingu (also known as Naiku), the shrine devoted to Amaterasu Omikami, the goddess of the sun, and Toyouke Daijingu (also known as Geku), the shrine devoted to Toyouke-no-Omikami, the goddess of agriculture.
Amaterasu Omikami is the ancestral shrine of the Japanese imperial family, and is considered to be the patron deity of Japan and the Japanese people.
The surface area of Ise Jingu’s grounds are approximately 5,000 hectares. More than 1500 ceremonies are performed on the shrine complex’s grounds each year to pray for the well being of the imperial family and the nation.
Uji Bridge, the bridge that straddles the Isuzu River on the route to Naiku, is seen as a bridge between the mundane world and holy ground. Upon entering this sacred space, visitors rinse their hands and mouths to purify body and soul. Some people also use water from the Isuzu River to perform this purification ritual.
The approach to Naiku is flanked by beautiful forests and buildings, providing visitors with a soothing atmosphere that calms the soul.
At the end of the path are the stone steps that lead to the central shrine. This area is considered one of the most sacred places in the entire shrine complex, and the foot of the steps is the last place that visitors are allowed to take photographs. After ascending the steps, visitors stand with their hands clasped in prayer and a wish in their heart.
When praying at Ise Jingu, it is customary to bow twice, clap twice, and then bow one more time.
Ise Jingu is ceremonially rebuilt every 20 years, a tradition known as Shikinen Sengu. This tradition has continued for 1300 years, and serves to perpetuate traditional religion, construction techniques, and culture.
There are plenty of things to do around Ise Jingu, as well. It is an ideal place to experience nature with friends and family.
There is a district near Ise Jingu that features traditional architecture. Its streets are lined with stores that sell handmade crafts and local goods, as well as restaurants that serve local cuisine.
Getting to Ise Jingu’s Naiku
Those traveling by car on the Ise IC Highway should exit onto National Rt 23. and follow National Rt. 23 to Naiku.
Those who do not wish to use highways should take National Rt. 23 south past Matsusaka, and then follow National Rd. 23 in the direction of Ise. National Rt. 23 terminates near Naiku.
Naiku is a short bus ride away from Kintetsu Railway’s Ujiyamada Station and Iseshi Station, which is serviced by both Kintetsu and JR. Visitors should get off at the “Naiku” bus stop.