Welcome to the Ise Grand Shrine, also know as Jingu. Without planning it, the visit to this very spiritual place ended up being one of the best highlights of a recent trip to Japan.
Jingu is located in the city of Ise, in Mie prefecture. This is a massive complex of shrines spread out over 5500 hectares of land filled with the calming greenery of ancient forests. Geku and Naiku are the two main shrines and the principal reason thousands of japanese make the pilgrimage to Ise.
I was fortunate to visit during the Shikinen Sengu (Year of Renewal) ceremony which occurs every 20 years and in which the old shrine is dismantled only to be build on an adjacent site. It was wonderful to see the simpleness and humbleness of the japanese devotion to Shinto. No matter what religious belief one might have, Ise Jingu is the perfect place to connect with your spiritual side while getting in touch with nature and its greatness.
If you are planning a visit to Japan please add this to your list…I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
For more information on the Shinto religion and Ise Jingu please visit http://www.isejingu.or.jp/shosai/english/index.htm
Many around the world celebrated the new year with bells and whistles, champagne, and fireworks. In Japan on the other hand, the New Year’s festivities are more about connecting with nature, getting in touch with the past, preserving tradition, eating meaningful food, and enjoy the majesty of nature. It is a serene and discrete way to welcome the year ahead and an experience I am fortunate to have live through. Visiting the shrines at Fujinomiya and Ise, eating a delightful Osechi-Ryori with loved ones, and witnessing the first sunrise of the year over the Pacific Ocean, are all unforgettable experiences that can only be a great sign of things to come in the year that begins. So in the words of the japanese “Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu”.