Long been a perfect getaway spot located between Osaka and Tokyo, Mie is a region that has retained a strong tradition of welcoming visitors, is now open-minded and happy to accept visitors from Japan and beyond.
Ise is a must-see in Mie Prefecture. This small town is best known as the home of the Ise Jingu shrine, a legendary Shinto shrine, and arguably the most important in Japan. The 2000-year-old shrine is divided into 125 pavilions. In total, its area is equivalent to that of the center of Paris! More than 1,500 rituals are held here each year, some in honor of the imperial family, others to ensure good harvests across the country. While in town, take the opportunity to stroll through the small historic district of Oharai-machi and Okage-yokocho.
A day in VISON
VISON is a large commercial complex, created to showcase the artisanal skills and products of Mie Prefecture. VISION is a 30-minute drive from Matsusaka and is also easily accessible by bus. There is a traditional market, a large number of shops, a hotel, cafes, relaxation areas, and various experiential facilities, to keep you busy for the day. It is a great place to walk around and talk to the craftsmen and also to the women who sell their amazing products.
The aim of VISON is to bring together local producers and nature-conscious designers; giving them real visibility and an opportunity to attract a wider public. The Norimomo shop, for instance, wishes to give nori (seaweed) its rightful place. The seaweed with numerous virtues is being given a new lease of life thanks to new packaging and various combinations of flavor.
Strolling in Matsusaka
Matsusaka is a lovely city, to be discovered on foot to stroll along the old streets and to discover a variety of craft shops. You can visit the old street once inhabited by samurai, but also a few old merchant houses (the region was very famous for its trade). Take a break to taste the famous Matsuzaka beef, one of the best Japanese Wagyu. Then head to Matsusaka Castle, explore the old castle grounds, and visit the Museum of Motoori Norinaga, featuring the writings and maps of Motoori Norinaga, a famous Japanese scholar.
Visit the coastal area of Mie
Shirataki Daimyojin – The Sacred Shirataki Meditation, Meditate under a waterfall
If you’re searching for something out of the ordinary, how about meditating under a waterfall? Yes, you heard it right. A 30-minute drive from Ise (1 hour by train), discover a secluded spot in the middle of nature. Between the trees winds a stream fed by a waterfall, on either side of the bank small huts are installed that are used as saunas. The place still remains a secret but is gaining in popularity, as it offers a complete experience to recharge your batteries away from the worries of everyday life. It is possible to choose only the “sauna” experience or the “meditation under the waterfall” experience or to enjoy the wonderful contrast of the two combined. Afterward, you can sit back and relax on a few sun loungers by the water and let the sounds of nature soothe you.
Meet the ama female divers
A group of intrepid and supportive women, the ama fisher-women are present in several coastal areas of Japan, most of whom work in Mie. Visit the “Ama Hut” Hachiman Kamado, on the shore of Matoya Bay, to enjoy a meal of seafood caught by these amazing women.
Visit a Katsuobushi factory
The prefecture has many culinary assets. If you are passionate about cooking and flavors, discover the secrets of making Katsuobushi! This dried and smoked bonito fish is used in the preparation of dashi, a traditional broth with a unique taste that is a must in Japanese gastronomy. Visit the 100-year-old smoking workshop and learn more about the history of Katsuobushi and its various uses.
Mie pearls: Treasures of the sea
Another amazing experience if you visit Mie is the making of pearl jewelry. With your family or as a couple, discover the pearl house in a small cove at the end of the world! Here, the long process of breeding pearl oysters and harvesting pearls will be explained to you with great patience and kindness. You can also choose an oyster, open it yourself and discover a pearl that you can then set into the jewelry of your choice: a pendant, a ring, etc.
Yes, it is also possible to surf in Mie! Mie’s eastern coastline is famous for its exceptional surf spots. If you are sportive, we advise you to check the weather, put on your bathing suit, and head to the beaches!
As you have seen, Mie is generous with nature lovers. We personally recommend Tomoyama Park, which offers several trails and a magical view of Ago Bay and the many uninhabited islands that dot the sea. You can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activity programs with an eco-tourism theme.
Hikes and excursions on Mie’s islands
Watakanoshima, the pretty little heart-shaped island, is undoubtedly the ideal refuge for a weekend of disconnect. Enjoy the beach, picnics and afternoon sports or just pure relaxation. Much further north, explore Kamishima, a little jewel lost in the middle of the water that you will have to earn. There you can enjoy a wonderful hike along the cliffs (weather permitting, of course).