Daytrip to Ise from Nagoya
When we hear Nagoya, maybe the first thing we think is a boring, industrial city. There’s a good reason for that. Nagoya is the home of the automotive behemoth known as Toyota. Also, after the Meiji Restoration, Nagoya was designated as industrial city. Currently, it’s the third biggest city in Japan, next to Tokyo and Osaka.
Have you watch the recent Studio Ghibli’s recent movie called The Wind Rises? If you notice, the main character moved to Nagoya to join Mitsubishi’s aircraft company. Yes, Nagoya is the HQ of Mitsubishi’s airplane division, and during the war, it’s one of the target of the Allied bombing, because of that reason.
However, Aichi, the perfecture Nagoya is part of, is rich with histories. Two of the biggest name of Japanese history is from there: Tokugawa Ieyasu and Nobunaga Oda.
Ise Grand Shrine
Next to Aichi, there’s Mie perfecture. It’s home of some of the most interesting historical and religious places in Japan. Oh, and also that famous F1 track: Suzuka.
Ise could be reached easily from Nagoya station using the Rapid Mie train, in about 1.5 hours. Using Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass), this train could be used for free. This train is frequent, departs twice an hour or so.
Do note though, some part of the railway is owned by a private railway company, so during the trip, the conductor will approach you and made you pay for that “tax”, which is ¥510 (~$5).
To get to the Ise Shrine, the most convenient station is the Iseshi station. From there, the shrine is just around ten minutes walk away.
Immediately after entering the shrine complex, the air is changing. It’s like a different world. Whereas the outside is very humid and hot, inside it’s cool, calm, and relaxing. Is it because of the trees there?
The shrine itself is famous place for the pilgrimage. A lot of people going there even on the weekdays.
Like many other of Japanese shrine, the main shrine building can’t be photographed. There are some guards there that ensure the rule is followed.
This shrine is not just an ordinary shrine though. This is the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest Shinto shrine of all Japan. It was built to worship the sun goddess, Amaterasu, around 2000 years ago. It’s no wonder then, why the rules are so strict.
Couple stations away from Iseshi station, near Futamino Ura station, there’s another very interesting site. It’s called Meoto Iwa, roughly translated as couple (as in married couple) rocks.
It’s very interesting to see. Walking along the sea side promenade, one can see those rocks clearly, just offshore.
Meoto Iwa is also a holy site in Ise. It is said that it’s a symbol the relationship between the creators in Japanese mythology: Izanagi and Izanami.
The rocks are “connected” together by a heavy woven rope, to symbolize the connection of the couple. The rope is supposedly very heavy, weighing about a ton. And it is said that the rope is changed several times a year during some ceremonies.
To go back to Nagoya, there’s also a Rapid Mie trains coming from the other direction which stops at Futamino Ura station. The trips is around 1.5-2 hours.
Going to Ise is a very nice daytrip. It’s totally worth it, especially using JR Pass. Without a JR Pass, the cost is ¥2,520 (~$25) one way. So, expect to spend ~$55 for the daytrip just for the train rides.
With JR Pass, to use Rapid Mie, theoritically one only needs to pay ¥1,020 for the round trip private railway “tax”. However, sometimes the they don’t care and never ask for that, as happened to me on my way back to Nagoya.