The city of Ise (pronounced e-say) is located at the eastern end of the Kii peninsula in Mie prefecture. It is filled with shrines and monuments from over 2000 years ago.
In the Ise area is Futamiura (The town of Marriage), where the Meotoiwa (Wedding rocks) can be viewed. The rocks are joined by a heavy 907-kilogram rope, which is changed out several times a year in a special ceremony. The rope is made of rice straw and the larger rock represents the male and is symbolic of marriage. Just beyond the wedding rocks is the Futaokitama Shrine, which is dedicated to the goddess Miketsu. You will see many frog statutes in the area. They are considered messengers of the Great God Sarutahiko. It is believed if surrounded by stone frogs your wishes will come true. This area was very peaceful and everyone appeared happy. The walk along the water is very scenic and can be crowded especially on the weekends. On our visit the wind was so strong that the waves washed up on the pathway making it an exciting journey.
A short bus ride from Ise is the small city of Toba, famous for lobster. Miwa had found the Misora restaurant on the internet and made advanced reservations. It is a little out of the way, but the food was outstanding. The restaurant is owned by Okumura-san along with his sister, who helps out during the weekends. Our goal was to experience the famous shellfish type lobster. They served lobster sushi, fried lobster, lobster in egg soup, and finally we cooked lobster in a special sauce at our table. It was all so good and I want to definitely come back again. As we were waiting for the bus to take us back to Ise we found a gift shop, which had everything from lobster soup, crackers and even lobster chips. This area is also famous for its beef, on the same par as Kobe beef. We purchased some beef products to try at home and they did not disappoint.
Back in Ise we visited the Naiku Shrine, founded over 2000 years ago. The day we visited it was crowded with thousands of people. I later found out that this shrine is visited by over 7 million people a year who come to pay respects to their ancestors. This shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, a descendant of the Imperial Family. The grounds were very large and we walked to many different buildings. There are over 123 shrines in the Ise area, which would make for a good challenge to see them all.
When we left we walked along the historic Oharaimachi street, filled with 100 food and souvenir shops. The buildings have been standing since the Edo period.
There are many other tourist attractions such as the Sengukan museum, Jingu Chokokan museum, Geku Shrine, and the divine Forest of Ise Jingu, which is part of Ise city. Ise is also the site of the G-7 summit this year.
You can get to Ise by train via Nagoya, Osaka, or Kyoto and then travel around by bus. This is a place where you can relax and take in the sights at your own pace.