Photo: iStock/ Peter Austin
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Places of worship: The shrines of Ise and Daihonzan Eiheiji

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By Fergus Gregg

Regarding shrines and temples in Japan, most thoughts go to the Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizudera in Kyoto or the Todaiji temple in Nara. However, if you’re brave enough to stray from the shinkansen to the reaches of Fukui and Mie prefecture, you’ll discover some of the most significant places of worship in Buddhism and Shinto.

So let’s talk about my trips to the Shrines of Ise and Daihonzan Eiheiji, two of Japan’s most atmospheric and historical holy sites.

Okage Yokocho ancient street

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Travel back to the Edo period in Ise city. Photo: iStock/ SeanPavone

Ise is a small city nestled on the eastern coast of Mie Prefecture. Before arriving, this was all I knew about the city, besides the fact that it was home to a nice shrine.

I didn’t expect to be greeted by a living, breathing Edo-period town. The streets are lined with beautiful Edo-era buildings, completely open storefronts and restaurants. Even though most of these shops were just the typical assortment of sweets and souvenir stores, the overall aesthetic of the street and its surrounding area won me over.

After wandering the streets for a while, I stopped for lunch at a restaurant. Ise has a few different specialties when it comes to food. Ise Beef is rich and perfectly matches the sweet and salty sukiyaki soup. If you like fatty Japanese beef, I would highly recommend trying Ise Beef Sukiyaki.

52 Ujinakanokiricho, Ise, Mie - Map

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Admission: Free

Nearest train station: Isuzugawa

Nearest bus station: Jingukaekan mae

www.okageyokocho.com/

The shrines of Ise

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The inner shrine Photo: iStock/ z tanuki

Now onto the main event, the shrines of Ise. Considering that these shrines are so significant to Shinto that they were specifically targeted during World War II, what shocked me was how humble the architecture was.

Compared to the opulence of shrines in Kyoto and Tokyo, Ise is understated. 

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

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