Saturday 30 July 2016

The Pilgrimage - Ise Grand Shrine (part 3)

This is the final part of a 3 part post about a recent trip to Ise city in Mie.  You can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

Morning on day 3 arrived way too early and after a quick shower and a brisk walk to the convenience store for a bite to eat, it was out the door to meet Chiyo who was kindly coming by to pick us up and show us around a couple of more places.  We started driving out of town toward a place called Ise Skyline and proceeded up Mount Asama.  We pulled off the road and parked at a temple called Kongosho-ji Temple.  

Kongosho-ji Temple dates back to the 6th century and stands over Ise on it's east side atop Mount Asama.  It is said to have been built to protect that side of Ise Shrine (just another example of how different religions co-habitate and cooperate peacefully together.

We started walking toward the temple Mon (gate)

as as we approached Chiyo mentioned that we will feel a difference as soon as we pass through the gate.  She was right.  The air temperature was noticeably cooler on the other side of the gate.  There may have been a logical reason for it, I don't know and I didn't ask.  The atmosphere was suddenly very solemn as we had entered this.

A pathway lined with sotoba (grave markers) stretching what looked to be up to 10 metres high.  Now Japanese cemeteries are far from scary places (I went and enjoyed cherry blossoms at daytime and nighttime in a big cemetery in Tokyo this year) but the air was still and cool and and silent as people shuffled their way past glancing up occasionally to respectfully read the names etched into each one.

We moved on and around to the main temple hall area with it's imposing buildings standing tall and grand.

We passed by and headed down some steps to the left of the main temple hall which lead out into a beautiful green area with a pond, 

a bridge 

and school of carp swimming happily towards us hoping to get fed.

And Chiyo didn't disappoint them!

Pretty soon it was time to make a move so we headed back out to the car and made our way back down to Ise and back toward Naiku (the inner shrine).  Being a Saturday there were a lot more people around so finding a car park was a challenge.  We had to park a little way away from the shrine which was fine, as it allowed us to enjoy a walk back along the river.

We walked back into Naiku and into the lush, deep green of the gardens again.

There were a few more people around than there had been the previous night.  

The sun was blazing down and the humidity was stifling.  Each breath brought me closer and closer to the impossible drowning on dry land!!  I come from a very dry area, so even the slightest humidity is difficult for me!

I battled on and soon we arrived at Naiku's innermost tori.  This was as close as I felt comfortable taking a picture.

The buildings around the area had only been replaced a few years previously so the wood was still relatively unstained from the weather.  The architectural style was the same as the buildings at Geku where we had been the previous day.

We made our way back to the Shrine shop 

where I bought an omamori (shrine good luck charm) which is supposed to help me find my perfect match.  Let's see how well it works!!

At this stage Chiyo had to leave us and go to work so Atra and I went back to the shopping street for one last walk along it to soak in the atmosphere.  It was definitely much more crowded than even the previous day.

The last thing we stumbled across before we went back to the hotel to get our bags and head back to Tokyo was a taiko drum performance.

Now I love taiko and I truly feel that it represents the soul of Japan and recommend to anyone who has the chance to experience a taiko concert to definitely not hesitate to do so.  It is quite exhilarating in it's rhythm, intensity and power as you can see from this short video.

All too soon, however, our trip was over and we made our way back to Nagoya to get on our Shinkansen 

and head back to Tokyo.  It had been an amazing few days.  Ise had amazed me with it's friendliness, hospitality and the local's willingness to speak English to me in it's shops and restaurants.  The peace and tranquility I had felt on the first night at Oharai machi and on the second day at Geku had givin me quite the Zen moment.  My pilgrimage was over, for now, but I am already planning a trip back next summer!

Thank you to Atra, who had accompanied me on this trip and kept me entertained (!) and to Chiyo who had very kindly shown us around some of the beauty that Ise has to offer.

Also, thank you to Atra who had taken my camera from me early on and took many of the pictures that you see here.

Thank you again for reading and experiencing this trip with me.  Please leave a comment below and share the post if you know someone who would like it.

See you next time!

Bus from Tokyo to Nagoya - 3,150 yen one way.
Train from Nagoya to Ise - 2,770 yen one way (reserved seating express train).
Accommodation in Ise at Kazami guesthouse - 4,000 yen per night for a single room or 2,600 yen for a bed in the dormitory.
 Shinkansen (bullet train) from Nagoya to Tokyo - 11,290 yen one way.


  1. Hello Jason,excellent photos and descriptions.Not familiar with Kongosho looks like a very nice place to visit.The Taiko Concert I remember well...same set up/place I went to and witnessed the wonderful drumming...running from drum to drum..and this young woman with a pony tail that was out drumming the young men.amazing energy and speed.It must be a regular thing.Really liked that photo of the young woman at the shrine shop...worth enlarging and framing...perhaps you could give her a copy if you go back in the next couple of years...she of course may be gone by then.Nagoya is a city many just pass does have some nice places to visit and I went there many times.Nearby,is the Toyota Car Museum...really worth a visit.Essendon play the Crows this Sunday and expecting a hiding again.The coach has admitted how poor his side goal and in general play..Daniher continues to come under much criticism for his inaccurate kicking..he is becoming or has become the Travis Cloke of the Dons...hard to see him getting any better.Strong rumors continue about Hurls going to the W.Bulldogs(hope he stays with the club)and still no word about Jobe.Strong winds and continual rain has been falling and we have had the wettest winter for several years.There has been little sunshine for the last few weeks and it has been cold,cold cold.In Nov. they will begin extension of the tram line down North Tce. to East Tce...I am a great believer in trams and this is a progressive step...I started work when trans were the main form of public transport in the city.Well Jason,I look forward to your next excursion, where ever that will be..ogenki de...Noel.

    1. Hi Noel,
      wow, you saw the drummers at the same place! It must be a regular thing. The young lady at the Shrine politely but sternly requested that we not take photos after that one was taken! But you are right, it is a good shot!
      I see that the Bombers went down to the Crows. Not unexpected of course. I would love to see all of them come back and resume their careers with the Bombers of course. I don't know that that will happen though.
      Good news about the Tram extension. I wasn't aware that that was going to happen. That will be a nice addition to the city centre, for sure.
      Thanks again for reading Noel. Take care.

    2. Lucky you Jason.I was about take a photo of the shrine girls,when all of a sudden one dashed out behind the counter waving her hands and saying something quickly and in a slightly raised voice.I immediately got the I put away my camera.I did not see any sign about no photography...I wonder why they object...perhaps it is partly on Shinto beliefs or they just do not want people clicking away all day at them.