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Introducing Ise

The Ise (伊勢) region, on Mie Prefecture's Shima Peninsula, is famous for Ise-jingū, Japan's most sacred Shintō shrine. The shrine is in Ise-shi, the main city of the region. Although Ise-shi is rather drab, it's worth making the trip to visit the spectacular shrine, arguably Japan's most impressive. Its only rival is Nikkō's Tōshō-gū, which is as gaudy as Ise-jingū is austere. Ise is also home to a lovely traditional street, Kawasaki Kaiwai.

Ise is easily reached from Nagoya, Kyoto or Osaka and makes a good two-day trip from any of these cities (you can even do it as a day trip from these cities if you take Kintetsu express trains). If you're wondering about how to pronounce Ise, it sounds like 'ee-say'.