Listen to the sounds of Ise Jingu
Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture is Japan's most sacred shrine dating back to the 3rd century.
Ise Shrine actually consists of two shrines: Geku (外宮) and Naiku (内宮). Geku, which dates from the 5th century enshrines the Shinto goddess of clothing, food and housing - Toyouke Omikami. Naiku, which is two hundred years older, enshrines Amaterasu-Omikami, the sun goddess, the guardian of the nation and the protector of the Imperial family.
Both shrine precincts are set in ancient forests of giant cryptomeria trees (sugi 杉), with lakes, ponds and large stones much in evidence.
The wooden buildings of the shrines are rebuilt every 20 years and re-consecrated in solemn nocturnal ceremonies. The next rebuilding project is set for 2013. The wood is presently brought from the Kiso Valley in Nagano Prefecture, though a replanting project is underway in the forests around the shrines, so that one day the timber can once again be supplied locally.
Naiku houses the sacred mirror of the Emperor, one of the three pieces of regalia of the Japanese Imperial family, the others being sacred jewels in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and a sacred sword in Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya.
Ise is easily reached by Kintetsu Railway from Osaka (2 hours from Namba), Nagoya (1 hour, 20 mins by tokkyu) and Kyoto (2 hours, 10 mins). It is possible to take a JR train from both Osaka and Kyoto to Ise but the journey involves multiple changes.
Geku is a short walk straight ahead from Ise Station. Take buses #51 or #55 from either Ise Station or from outside the entrance of Geku to Naiku (about 30 mins).
Oya Taxis Tel: 0596 36 0012
Buy tasteful interior decoration paper lanterns.
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Japan images by Jake Davies
Japan Ise Shrine Amaterasu Naiku Geku Emperor Shinto Mie Prefecture
Monday, November 13, 2006