Ise Jingu & Amanemu

Going to Mie and planning a trip requires some know how. Start with the train, you’ll travel either to Kyoto or Nagoya, and we travelled to Nagoya because it is closer to Tokyo. The Nagoya station is hopping busy, and if you are passing through, you need to be quick and well organized. The JR line, and the next train line /Kinetetsu/ are not in the same area, and while it is a short walk to the Kintetsu line, you should plan sometime between trains for the transit.

The Kintetsu train service is brutal and you have the upgraded train car. It can be one of those travel frenzies as you run through the station to catch your train. Always make sure to ask or double check because getting on the wrong train can change things dramatically.

Arriving in Kashikojima Station is the railway station in Shima and is a terminus of the Shima Line and a common destination for Kintetsu limited express trains from Nagoya, Osaka and Kyoto. We were met by the Aman car and the drive is about 10 minutes to the property.

The Aman is situated on a beautiful part of the bay, and the rooms are all the same size, except for the Villas which are two bedrooms. The only change from room to room is the location and view.

Amanemu is in a place where there is little to do unless you are keen to relax, possibly bird watch /but bring your own equipment/ and or take a bath in the onsen. If you have sincere interest in experiencing onsen, the source in Ise is very salty, and Amanemu’s approach to onsen is very western.

The onsen is located in the spa area and you are obliged to wear bathing suits. I cannot say I find it very relaxing, and its the first time I have ever seen onsen and bathing suits. So we tried private onsen and that is an improvement yet not very special.

The accomodation is Ise is intense and there are plenty of options, but few compare to Amanemu. There is Kanko Bay resort, and I’ve stayed there in the past. Tje hotel is old-fashioned and has a good restaurant named La Mer, and the food isn’t quite as good as in the past, yet the serve awabi and beef, the main staples in Mie luxury market.

The Bay suites face the sea and the visita is very nice and the hotel is well located:

Ise shima is best known for Ise Jingu, the holiest of all jinja /Shinto shrines/ in all of Japan. The coastline inlet has 60+islands, and the waters offer wonderful sea foods. But don’t get too excited, the local products are good, but the restaurants there are mediocre, or too far away.

The shrines are two, and in different locations and 3km away from one another. We used a car and a driver, and we reccomend an Alphard taxi for local travel. This can be arranged by contacting the hotel or the local taxi service:

Naiku stands in the immense forest is well-loved by people from all over the country that they gather, hoping to “worship at least once in their life time”. Consisting of 125 large and small Shinto Shrines (Jinja) which are scattered throughout the region, and above all the two most famous ones are “Naiku” and “Geku”.

The “Uji Bridge” at the entrance of Naiku is a large bridge made of Japanese cypress beyond compression in Japan which is said to connect secular and sacred worlds. A big 700-year-old Japanese cedar tree rises in the approach, creating the sublime atmosphere of entering a sanctuary. A visit to the park grounds and the two shrines are wonderful, impressive, serene and if you want to takew advantage of the expereince be there just before opening hours, which is very early 05h00am and closes at 18h00. The immense grounds, through which the Isuzu River flows, include twelve auxiliary jinjas as well as the main shrine dedicated to Amaterasu-omikami, so take your time and if you can visit over two days to see it properly.

When talking about attractiveness of Ise Jingu, there is another more touristic side, and if that inetersts you, visit “Oharai-machi” and “Okage-yokocho” where you can enjoy shopping and the local’s foods.

While strolling the stone pavement, which runs down about 800 meters along the Isuzu River in Oharai-machi, you can enjoy historical buildings and the unique atmosphere of Ise. In Okage-yokocho, there are many restaurants and souvenir shops revealing historical atmospheres of the Edo and Meiji era. It is a fun visit and anticipate one hoiur or more and if you plan to

The soul food of Ise, and the main store of “Akafuku” which started its business in 1707, and serves this traditional specialty:

Then there is Udon is a dish that is much-loved all over Japan, but Ise udon is different to regular udon. This udon is the local style of udon in Mie Prefecture. This simple dish features super thick noodles with a diameter of one centimeter, served in a black sauce and are covered with sliced green onions and raw egg. Ther udon noodles are known for their extremely soft and chewy texture. They are said to be easy on the digestion of weary worshippers who have traveled from distant regions to come pay a visit to Ise Grand Shrine.

The black sauce is made using ingredients such as soy sauce and bonito fish stock. Its appearance suggests it would be rather strong-tasting, however it slightly sweet. The stores which offer “Iseudon” (noodles) in soja, my wife said they look like worms and I thought about it and agreed.

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