Looking for a more quiet area of Japan to go sightseeing? Why not try Mie, Japan. Quite honestly, before moving to Japan I have never heard of this prefecture before. I ended up living in a tiny area in the Mie prefecture that not so many people know. But that one year living in the center area of Japan allowed me to travel to places I might not have necessarily have went to.
Mie is a quite beautiful prefecture in Japan facing the Pacific Ocean. It is about 2 hours by Limited Express Train from two big cities in Japan, Osaka and Nagoya. I will list some areas that I have travelled to in Mie, why I went there, and what I thought was worth seeing.
I think I should add that, I have a Japanese driver’s license and my own company car so, I didn’t have any problems getting around. But, Mie is quite limited in its means of transportation so I highly recommend renting a car.
Here we go, my top 5 cities to visit in the prefecture of Mie, Japan.
5. Ise (伊勢市)
Ise is most famous for their Ise-Jingu shrine. It is the most holy Shinto shrine here in Japan. The royal family come yearly around the New Year to pay their respects to their religion. Around that time, everything is closed and people cannot go inside.
If you are all about photography, the small city around the shrine is extremely beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms and the fall with the coloured leaves. Both seasons are busy. If you plan on taking photos of the shine, don’t get too excited. Photography is not allowed of the main shrines.
Something that you have to try when in Ise is Akafuku Mochi!!!!! It is the most delicious and smooth red bean mochi you might ever eat in your life. If you are planning to buy it for omiyage (presents) beware, it goes bad quite fast and cannot store for a long time. Usually in the fall, people take bus tours through the mountain pass that leads to Shima or Toba so they can view the leaves.
4. Toba (鳥羽市)
Toba is a quiet little city on the coast. Although Toba may be small, there are still many things to visit. Toba has their famous aquarium which can be found on the YouTube channel VICE: JAPAN. Around the aquarium, there is also Yamazaki Pearl Island. Toba also has big resort hotels that are quite expensive but the scenery and view is breathtakingly beautiful.
3. Shima (志摩市)
Of course, I would recommend the city I lived in for one year. Shima is on the very bottom tip of the prefecture. It is said that the seafood here is used to feed the royal family (not sure, it’s just a saying). Oysters, pearls, and blowfish are very famous in this area of Mie.
There is also quite a big theme park named “Spain Mura” (Spain village) which has Brazilians and Spanish people working there. The theme park is quite expensive but not as much as Disney. Also, the Kashigojima area has some ritzy hotels and golf courses you can enjoy for a nice quite relaxing weekend.
2. Iga (伊賀市)
If you are into the martial arts scene or even Japanese history, a great place for you to visit in Mie is Iga. This mountainous area is the land where ninjas originated. That’s right, ninjas! (Ed: Iga is also the birthplace of Hattori Hanzo, famous samurai/ninja and inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s fabled sword-smith, Hattori Hanzo, in Kill Bill 2). Even if you’re not practicing martial arts, there must be some small part of you that thinks ninjas are bad-ass and cool. I remember when driving through a random mountain, I started thinking about the ninjas and I could totally imagine them living there.
There is just something about the forest there that seems mysterious and magical. There aren’t too many tourist attraction in Iga apart from their castle. There is however, a ninja festival. You read right, a Ninja Festival!! Ueno Ninja Fiesta 2015 takes place from April 1st to May 6th. People come to there to compete in ninja games. Also, during that time, if you dress as a ninja and ride the train, your fair is free.
1. Kuwana (桑名市)
There are many things to see in Kuwana and for anyone visiting, it is next to Nagoya. Easy to kill two birds with one stone if you visit around here. I would say Kuwana is most famous for its illuminations in the autumn/winter and its huge theme/hot springs park. Nabana no Sato are the illuminations in Nabano Park. I highly recommend viewing these if you are around this area in the colder seasons.
Every year, the theme of the illuminations change so every year, people keep going back. The time I went it was a Mt. Fuji theme. Extremely beautiful and the tunnel of lights were to die for. I would recommend going to there on a non-busy day. I went during the weekend since it was my time off and, I found it a little difficult to move and enjoy as much because I was too preoccupied with people pushing me. If you go, please eat a yaki-imo (it is like a baked sweet potato, amazingly sweet, warm, and refreshing to eat on a cold day/night)
Another attraction I highly recommend is Nagashima Spa Land. It is quite pricey but you can enjoy an amusement park and a visit to the hot springs. In Japan, you have to at least once try an Onsen (hot springs) and experience true Japanese culture. Although, I am not too sure how tattoo friendly they are. Usually, Japanese hot springs are pretty strict to people with tattoos and will not let them enter a public bath (tattoos in japan are linked to the yakuza, Japanese mafia). But some places are tattoo friendly because they get enough foreign clients so they can’t discriminate as much.
There you have it. My top 5 cities to visit in the prefecture of Mie, Japan. Have you been to any of these places before? Please enjoy if you make a trip to any of these places.
Ta-ta for now,
About the Author – Hello, my name is Jennifer aka osharegirl. Come on over to my Youtube channel to catch a glimpse of fashion, beauty, and everyday life abroad here in Japan. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
The original article can be found here. Reprinted with permission.