Affectionately known as “Oise-san,” the Ise Jingu Shrine is located in Ise City in Mie Prefecture. Officially, it is simply named “Jingu” (shrine) without the place name. Jingu collectively refers to a group of 125 shrines, including two main shrines, the Kotaijingu (Naiku)—the Imperial Grand Shrine (Inner Shrine)—which enshrines Amaterasu Omikami, the ancestral god of the Imperial Household and the universal god of the Japanese people, and the Toyo’ukedaijingu (Geku)—the Toyouke Grand Shrine (Outer Shrine)—which enshrines Toyo’uke-no-Omikami, the guardian deity of all industrial endeavors, including clothing, food, and housing, 14 associated shrines, 43 auxiliary shrines, 24 subordinate shrines, and 42 other minor shrines. The traditional pilgrimage route to Ise Jingu Shrine sees travelers go from the Outer Shrine to the Inner Shrine. This is the largest shrine in Japan that visitors seek, filled with a sense of gratitude.
The shrine holds about 1,500 events year-round. One of these events is the Higoto-asa-yu-omike-sai, a ceremony held in the morning and the evening to offer food, and give prayer and thanks to the enshrined deity. This ceremony has continued every day for around 1,500 years. The largest festival held at Jingu is the Shikinen Sengu (transfer of a deity to a new shrine building), which is held once every 20 years. This Shinto ritual involves both the Inner and Outer Shrines, and 14 associated shrines with deep connections to the two main shrines being rebuilt anew on an adjacent plot of land. This special ceremony is held to move the shrine deity from the old to the newly constructed building. The vibrant shrine buildings have kept the same appearance for some 1,300 years.
After paying a visit to the Inner Shrine, why not take a stroll down Oharaimachi, the town on the approach to the shrine. Here you can find the popular Okage Yokocho street that resembles the look of a temple town from the Edo to late Meiji Period. Lined with stores offering a chance at a unique Ise-Shima eating tour and shopping experience, every day this street packed with throngs of people as though a festival was taking place.