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The Ise Jingu consists of two shrines: the Outer Shrine (Geku), which is dedicated to Toyouke, theShinto deity of clothing, food and housing, and the Inner Shrine (Naiku), which enshrines the most venerated deity Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. They are Shinto's most sacred shrines.
Naiku and Geku are located several kilometers apart from each other at the foot of densely wooded hills. Unlike most other Shinto shrines, the Ise Jingu are built in a purely Japanese architecture style which shows almost no influence from the Asian mainland. Naiku is believed to have been established in the 3rd century and Geku in the 5th century.
The shrines fascinate through their pure simplicity. There is nothing but green trees, broad gravel lanes and the wooden, barely painted shrine structures. Because the Ise Jingu are so sacred, no pictures may be taken near their main halls, a task that would be difficult anyway, as the view of the innermost buildings is partially obstructed by a set of wooden fences.
The Naiku and Geku are both rebuilt every 20 years according to an ancient Shinto tradition. For that matter, an empty lot is located besides every shrine building as the site for its next rebuilding. Ise Shrine's 62nd rebuilding was completed in 2013. The 63rd rebuilding will take place in 2033.
The Sengukan Museum was opened in spring 2012 at the entrance of the Outer Shrine for visitors to learn more about the shrines' rebuilding. The museum's outstanding exhibits include a fourth of a 1:1 replica of the shrine's main building as well as a beautiful 1:20 model of the main sanctuary. An English pamphlet and audio guide are available, but all the signs are in Japanese only.
The Outer Shrine is located in central Ise, about a 5 minute walk from Ise-shi Station, while the Inner Shrine stands several kilometers outside of the city center. The Inner Shrine can be reached by bus from Ise-shi Station or the Outer Shrine in about 15 minutes and 430 yen.
Both shrines can also be accessed by the CAN bus, which provides direct connections between the shrines, Ise-shi Station, Edo Wonderland, the Meoto Iwa Rocks and Toba.
A one day pass for the CAN bus costs 1000 yen and provides unlimited rides on the bus, as well as discounts on admission to various attractions. A two day pass is available for 1600 yen.
information source: japan-guide.com
Outer and Inner Shrines
5:00 to 18:00 (January to April, September)
5:00 to 19:00 (May to August)
5:00 to 17:00 (October to December)
No closing days
9:00 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00)
Every 4th Tuesday of the month (or next day if that Tuesday is a national holiday)