”Ise Jingu” the place where Japanese Shinto started

”Ise Jingu”
the place where Japanese Shinto started

One of the oldest shrine in Japan

When we are introducing a shrine, it is common to address ”xx years since the beginning of the worship”, however it is not easy to apply that for Ise Jingu. Because it is one of the oldest shrine in Japan and they have not found any documents indicating the beginning.
It remains a mystery till now but one of the strong theories among many is a legend from ”Nihon Shoki”. There, it indicates that Yamato Himenomikoto came to the land of Ise to look for a place to enshrine Amaterasu Omikami. That was the year 26 of Emperor Suinin so according to the description of the book the shrine would have been built over 2000 years ago.

Tradition of Shiki Nen Sengu

For the accurate recording of Ise Jingu, we will have to wait till ”The System of Shiki Nen Sengu” that was established in the year 685. Shiki Nen Sengu is to move the sacred object by re-building the shrine periodically. Shiki Nen Sengu for Ise Jingu is set to be every 20 years so the next one which will be the 62nd is planned to be in 2013. During the war time in Sengoku period, Shiki Nen Sengu was interrupted for a while but apart from those times, it has been kept as a tradition until today.
Ise Jingu was open only to the imperial family and the court as a place to worship the emperor’s gods. But as the time passed, it opened its door to samurai and to public and by the Edo period, it became a place for the pilgrimage for many people.
This is the ”Ise Mairi (Ise pilgrimage)” and is also called ”Okagemairi”. The number of people who comes to worship is said to be over 4 million people so this means one sixth of the population then have visited the shrine.

The mysterious atmosphere of the shrine and the warm hospitality of the town.

Even now, there are many people visit here for the pilgrimage. To host these people, there is an area called ”Okage Yokocho” near the main road to the shrine. It is an area where they restored the buildings and stores from the Edo period. There are over 53 restaurants and souvenir stores and Japanese drum called Yaguradaiko that makes you feel the vibrant atmosphere of the Edo period.
You can enjoy the taste of Ise with the famous ”Ise Udon”, ”Tekone Sushi” and ”Akafuku Mochi” while going through the Okage Yokocho. After you go through the area, the atmosphere changes completely and the air becomes serene all of a sudden.
Like being in the forest, you will see tall, broad, huge trees and due to the contrast from the vibrant place before, it becomes even more solemn mood. Ise Jingu has been cherished from the old days as ”Oise san” and the secret of this is that it provides the mysterious atmosphere as well as the warm hospitality of the town.


Ise Jingu
1 Ujikancho, Ise, Mie Prefecture