Top choice in Kansai

Ise-jingū's inner shrine is dedicated to the sun goddess, Amaterasu-Ōmikami, considered the ancestral goddess of the imperial family and guardian deity of the Japanese nation. Naikū is particularly revered because it houses the sacred mirror of the emperor, one of three imperial regalia – the other two are the sacred beads – at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and the sacred sword, at Atsuta-jingū in Nagoya).

At the entrance to the precincts you'll cross the bridge Uji-bashi over the crystal-clear river Isuzu-gawa. The path continues along an avenue lined with towering cryptomeria trees, under several torii, to the Goshōden, the main shrine building (which is fenced off). Working your way back, pay a visit to some of the smaller shrines on the grounds, such as the Mishine-no-Mikura (where rice offered to the gods is stored), whose architecture resembles that of the off-limits main shrine.

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Nearby Kansai attractions

1. Oharai-machi


This street approaching Naikū was developed in the Edo period (1603–1868), when pilgrimages to Ise-jingū were at an all-time high, to provide visitors…

2. Sengūkan

2.35 MILES

At the entrance to Gekū, this museum illustrates Shikinen-Sengū, the ceremonial reconstruction of the buildings of the Ise shrines and the transfer of the…

3. Ise-jingū

2.35 MILES

Believed to have been founded in the 3rd century, Ise-jingū is Japan's most venerated Shintō shrine. It’s in two parts – Gekū, the outer shrine, and Naikū…

4. Gekū

2.35 MILES

Ise-jingū's outer shrine dates from the 5th century and enshrines the god of food, clothing and housing, Toyo'uke-no-Ōmikami. Daily offerings of rice are…

5. Shinmei-jinja

11.03 MILES

Popularly known as Ishigami-san, this humble shrine is dedicated to the goddess Tamayori-hime and has long been a place for the area’s ama (traditional…

6. Castle-Guard Residences

14.04 MILES

Just south of the castle ruins is a street of original row houses built as residences for the samurai charged with guarding the castle. One (closest to…

7. Matsusaka Merchant Museum

14.16 MILES

Ozu Seizaemon was one of the most successful merchants of the Edo period, and his well-preserved timber-framed home, originally built in the late 17th…

8. Matsusaka-jō Ruins

14.17 MILES

Matsusaka's grand castle, constructed in 1584, was short-lived: a typhoon destroyed the five-storey donjon (main keep) in 1644, while fire and…