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Mie Travel Guide Steeped in History and Culture

Mie Prefecture Ocean Shrine

Beautiful manicured fairways, rolling greens and challenging sand traps, sit high within the sweeping mountains above the breathtakingly rugged coastal views of the golf courses in the Mie prefecture. Mie is situated in the Kansai region on the Pacific Ocean side of Japan, easily accessible within a few hours of Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya. However, there is much more awaiting you after a round of golf than just the 19th hole.

Mie prefecture is steeped in history and culture, having one of only a handful shrines that are thought of as power spots within Japan. It is because of this, and its link to the Imperial family that pilgrims have, and continue to travel to Mie to receive power and vitality from the gods. The capital city of Mie is Tsu, which is home to the Tsu Castle, first built in 1558, although through repairs the castles architecture isn't historically accurate anymore, however it is still a marvel to look at. There are so many gems throughout Mie for you to explore that will enhance your golf trip, and hopeful after a visit to the power spot, improve your game.   

Things to do

Set on the jagged coast, Meoto Iwa (Married Couple Rocks), is said to be the most sacred of very few power spots in all of Japan. Upon the large rock sits a small shrine. Then there is a rope that stretches across joining the two rocks that weighs over a ton, and is replaced serval times a year. Inland from there is the Ise Grand Shrine. There are two locations that make up this one shrine, an inner (Naiku), and an outer (Gaku), which are located within two kilometers of each other, linked by the original path taken by pilgrims, lined with souvenir shops with Edo period designed exteriors. Also at the inner shrine you will discover a lovely stream that temple staff and visitors use to cleanse themselves before entering. No photography is allowed inside the shrine, so be prepared to soak it in.

As mentioned, the Tsu Castle is a fantastic spot to go and see lovely views of the capital and mountains surrounding it. There, you are also welcome to try on a traditional kimono, and have your photos taken.

Azuchi Momoyama Cultural Village is themed around the great ninjas of the local area. Mie prefecture is the birthplace of the Japanese ninja. And it celebrates it with a museum, that is a great place for the kids and young at heart. There you can dress as a ninja and watch live interactive demonstrations.

For the motor sports lovers, Suzuka circuit in Mie is the home of Japanese motor sports. Here you can watch a race or adjacent to the track is Motopia amusement park. The park has go karts, that with a small driving test, if you don’t have a Japanese license, you can race the karts around a designated track. This park is also perfect for the kids, with many children's rides that will keep them entertained for hours.

A trip to Mie wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Mikimoto Pearl Island. This is birthplace of the first cultivated pearls. There is a beautiful interactive display and museum for you to explore and discover the history of pearls. You can even watch the divers in action from the comfort of a viewing room on the docks.    
 

Events and Seasonal Happenings

Nabana no Sato Illuminations Winter Festival

There are festivals all throughout the year, so know matter when your travel you'll be able to see the rich culture and history of the the area, but there are some you won’t want to miss. The Geita Festival is the first festival of the year, held on the 1st of January in Kamijima-town. Then there is the Kagura Festival. This is held twice a year during the spring and autumn equinox. Over three days, a dance called Jingu (shrine) Dance is performed, and offered to the gods. Beginning in March, and running through to April, there is a Ninja festival every Sunday in the Ueno Cultural Center in Ueno city. And to round up our hand picked selection of a multitude of festivals and events in the area, we’ll leave you with Nabana no Sato. This place is an amusement park on the island of Nagashima, dedicated to flowers. The floral displays change seasonally, and during winter they have a beautiful illumination on display that shouldn't be missed.

 

Flavors of Mie

Ise Udon Noodles Soy Sauce

Mie has some wonderful seafood. And the local lobster known as Isu-ebi is extremely popular with the locals and visitors alike. And staying on the ocean theme, there is Tekonezushi. Tekonezuhi is a bowl of rice topped with delicately cut local tuna slices that have been soaked in a sweet soy sauce. However if seafood isn't your thing, then there is the local, Isu udon. This udon is a flat udon noodle mixed in a black soup. It's traditionally served with a raw egg, but can be left on the side if you choose. There is also beer feed beef, Kuroushi beef. This beef is extremely tender from the beer, but it’s also massaged to improve tenderness. Akafuku (red bean paste) is one of an array of a beloved local sweets you can get in Mie.  
What to Bring Back.

 

What to bring back

red bean sweets japan

Knowing what to buy as a gift the represents a prefecture can be a little difficult, but one of the most popular places to buy a that gift on that occasion is from one of the stores outside the Ise Grand Shrine. Some of the common gifts are, red bean paste or other Japanese sweets, Japanese pottery, pearl jewelry, tea, and of course locally brewed sake. Or maybe something from the Ninja museum or Suzuka race track would suit the recipient better.   
 

Where to stay

Picking the right hotel might be a little difficult, as there are so many places to choose in this beautiful prefecture. Fortunately, the area caters to all price, comfort and location conscious. At the more expensive end you have Shima Kanko Hotel the Classic (in Shima), Ise Shinsen (in Ise), or the Toba Hotel International (in Toba). However if you’re looking for something a little different, there is the Ise City Hotel Annex (in Ise) or the Reich Hotel Yokkaichi (in Yokkaichi). Or something traditional, there is the Hotel Maritaime Kaikoen Kikuka (in Toba).

Wrap up

Crowded historic shopping street mie prefecture

Mie prefecture is the perfect destination to have a break from the crowds of Kyoto and Osaka. There is so much to do and see in one small prefecture, that your biggest concern, will be if you are staying long enough to see it all. Luckily, it isn't going anywhere in a hurry, and if you didn't get to experience and discover it all the first time, there's always the next time. Check our recent article about Nemu Golf Club for an idea of what the golf is like.

 

Getting there

Osaka to Tsu 1hr 45mins. (Yodoyabashi station to Namba station. Osaka-Numba station to Tsu station)
Kyoto to Tsu 2hrs 21mins. (Sanjo staton to Tambabashi. Kintetsu-Tambabashi to Tsu station)
Nagoya to Tsu 50mins. (Kintetsu station to Tsu station)
Tokyo to Tsu 2hrs 30mins (Tokyo station to Nagoya station. Kintetsu station to Tsu)
 

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