If you think Japan is all about ancient shrines, cherry blossoms and costume-clad youths, I urge you to read on. There’s a side to Japan you absolutely must see. Get your camera ready and say konnichiwa to one of Japan’s top scenic destinations, Mie Prefecture!
Here are five of my favourite attractions of Mie Prefecture.
1. Shishi Iwa
Facing the Kumano Sea stands the mythical lion-shaped cliff, the Shishi Iwa. According to legend, this 25-metre tall attraction has numerous caves that are said to have been perfect demon dwellings. But tales and wonders aside, I recommend this place because it’s part of the Kumano Kodo—a UNESCO World Heritage site comprising ancient pilgrimage trails and shrines running through the Kii mountains of Mie, Wakayama and Nara Prefectures.
My last visit to this place was during summer. And I was lucky to have caught the Kumano Grand Fireworks Festival, where I snapped a photo of the lion shooting out fireworks from its mouth!
Name: Shishi Iwa
Address: Kimotocho & Idocho Kumano-shi, Mie 519-4323
Official Website: http://kumano-kankou.com/?p=20
2. Maruyama Senmaida
One thousand rice paddies, that’s what Senmaida translates to. But vast numbers of rice paddies aren’t all this attraction is renowned for. Visiting this place brought me back to ancient Japan, where farmers hand-carved the hilly landscape into terraces.
This attraction offers splendid views all year round. But my favourite season is spring. Be sure to catch the Maruyama Senmaida Rice Festivals—where locals perform dances and rituals for good harvest.
Getting to Maruyama Senmaida takes 30 minutes by car from the JR Kumano-shi station.
Name: Maruyama Senmaida
Address: Maruyama Kiwa-cho Kumano-shi, Mie 519-5405
Official Website: https://www.kumano-kankou.info/firsttime/nature/
Want to see what 16th century Japan is like? Seki-Juku on the old Tokaido road is the place to visit! Developed as the 47th post town during the height of the Edo period (1603 - 1868), it served as a vital checkpoint for the military, a pit stop for pilgrims en route to Ise, and a popular trading hub. Because of the historical significance, this town has been designated as a national historical district.
I feel like a time traveler with each visit here. The well-preserved architecture of over 200 buildings never fails to amaze me. It feels like time has no effect on them!
Summer is the best time to visit. Take the museum tour, stay at one of the ancient inns to experience Seki-Juku’s historic hospitality, and enjoy the Seki-Juku Summer Festival!
Name: Tokaido Sekijuku
Address: Kosaki Sekicho Kameyama City, Mie 519-1107
Official Website: https://www.kankomie.or.jp/spot/detail_1840.html
4. Yokoyama Observatory
Spectacular. Grand. Majestic. I could add more words, but it wouldn't accurately describe the view that greeted me when I was at this attraction.
The Yokoyama Observatory sits atop the 203-metre tall Mount Yokoyama. Here, you’re promised panoramic views of the Ago Bay and the numerous islets within the bay, which stretches towards the horizon.
Besides the Yokoyama Observatory, you can find three more observatories each offering a distinct view. There’s the Panorama Observatory, Miharashi Observatory and the Ago Bay Observatory, which are all about15 minutes from one another.
Name: Yokoyama Observatory
Address: 875-20 Ugata Agotacho Shima City, Mie 517-0501
Official Website: http://www.kanko-shima.com/html/search_det.php?no=...
5. Okage Yokocho Alley
It’s munch time at Okage Yokocho! Measuring 800 metres long and located right outside the Ise Grand Shrine, this historic alley is lined with buildings that date back as far as the Edo and Meiji era.On my previous trip, I had the pleasure of visiting century-old establishments that still remain in their trades today!
But there’s more to enjoy here than just a trip back in time. You’ll find famous Ise specialties like handicrafts, and especially my favourite—food! I highly recommend the akafuku, a mochi filled with red bean paste. Ise udon, thicker than usual noodles in sauce. And deep-fried chicken skin. If you like seafood, it’s available and affordable too!
Name: Okage Yokocho Alley
Address: 52 Nakanokirimachi Uji Ise City, Mie 516-8558
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