A cultural and gourmet adventure through Japan’s pearl capital

Ise Area, Toba Area

Ago Bay, located in Mie Prefecture's Ise-shima, is historically known as the pearl production capital of Japan. Through the successful cultivation of Akoya oysters, the bay became famous for its "Akoya pearls" and attracts many tourists as a result. Ise is known as the "Land of Delicious Food" for the many specialty dishes that can be found here. It is also home to the very popular Ise-jingu Shrine, which is a definite must-see!

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Day 1 - Ise

[Traveling]
Osaka -- <5 mins. walk> -- Nishi-Umeda -- <Osaka Municipal Subway Yotsubashi Line 7 mins.> -- Namba/Osaka Namba -- <Kintetsu Limited Express110 mins.> -- Iseshi -- <15 mins. by bus> -- Jingu Kaikan-mae -- [Okage Yokocho Street] -- <16 mins. walk> -- [Ise-jingu Shrine (inner shrine)] -- <Kintetsu Toba Line Limited Express 33 mins.> -- Iseshi

Okage Yokocho Street

Go two to three centuries into the past when you visit Okage Yokocho. This street resembles a traditional Japanese town and is filled with shops that offer local Ise specialty products. The buildings themselves are replicas of those that were found here hundreds of years ago. You can try some delicious local dishes and experience the people’s “Omotenashi”, Japan’s ancient and historied spirit of hospitality.

Ise-jingu Shrine (inner shrine)

Ise Cuisine

Ise Bay is a treasure trove of some of the tastiest seafood in all of Japan. It is home to the Japanese spiny lobster or “Ise lobster”, named in honour of the area. Bay-facing Ise City has a great many number of restaurants that can show you the best of what Japan’s food culture has to offer. There are unique local sweets and special udon noodles as well, so be sure to give everything a try!

Akafuku

Akafuku is a simple, traditional Japanese sweet of bean paste spread over rice cake. Its rich taste matches its rich history as an iconic treat of Ise that has been served the same way for over three hundred years.

Tekonezushi

Delicately marinated strips of lean fish are arranged on a bed of vinegared sushi rice in this signature Ise dish. It makes for a perfect introduction to the world of sushi for people who don’t like fishy-tasting food thanks to the flavor of the marinade. Each restaurant has its own unique way of making tekonezushi, giving the dish a surprising amount of variety.

Saury Sushi

Oshizushi refers to a layered type of sushi that is made in a traditional wooden block press. The saury fish caught in Ise has a lean, firm meat and makes for very good oshizushi. The taste is so good that you may end up eating an entire one on your own!

Ise Lobster

The Japanese spiny lobster is a famous luxury ingredient, and the lobsters caught in Ise are famously considered to be of premium quality. Ise lobsters are at their best between October and April. The rough, wintery seas seem to concentrate their flavor.

Grilled Clams

Ninety percent of the clams eaten in Japan are imported, but not in Ise. The clams found here are a local delicacy second to none. The grilling process lets out excess salt water from the meat while enhancing its rich flavor. Simple and delicious!

Ise Udon Noodles

Udon is one of the most popular dishes throughout Japan. Udon from Ise is distinguished from other varieties by the rich sauce that it’s served with. It appears to be quite spicy at first glance, but stands out for its unexpectedly sweet and smooth flavor.

Day 2 - Toba

[Traveling]
Ise City -- <5 mins. walk> -- [Ise-jingu Shrine (outer shrine)] -- <5 mins. walk> -- Iseshi -- <Sangu Line 10 mins.> -- Futamiura -- [Meoto Iwa Rocks] -- <Sangu Line 10 mins.> -- Toba -- <10 mins. walk> -- [Mikimoto Pearl Island] -- Toba -- <Kintetsu Railway 120 mins.> -- Tsuruhashi -- <JR 15 mins.> -- Osaka

Ise-jingu Shrine (outer shrine)

This part of Ise-jingu is dedicated to Toyouke Omikami – the goddess of food and grain. The inner shrine mentioned above, together with the outer shrine, is known as Ise-jingu Shrine (broadly defined, they consist of one hundred and twenty-five shrines in total.)

Meoto Iwa Rocks

These famous rocks have been named “Meoto Iwa (husband and wife rocks)” as they look like a married couple standing next to each other. The place where they stand is said to be a sacred spot that the gods visit. Located seven hundred meters offshore, they serve as the gateway for offering prayers to Amaterasu Omikami. The rising sun can be seen between these wedded rocks from May to July, and the full moon can be seen in the background from autumn to winter.

Mikimoto Pearl Island

This is the birthplace of Japanese pearl cultivation, and the site where Mikimoto’s founder Kokichi Mikimoto first successfully cultivated a pearl. Here, visitors can experience the history surrounding the Japanese pearl trade at facilities such as Japan’s first pearl museum and the Kokichi Mikimoto Memorial Hall, which is dedicated to the Pearl King.