Ise Grand Shrine
- The Inner Shrine is formally known as Kotai Jingu and venerates Shinto’s most important deity – the Sun Goddess (Amaterasu Omikami)
- It is one of Japan’s most sacred sites and is considered to be the spiritual home of the Japanese and its indigenous Shinto religion
- The Ise Grand Shrines are built in an architectural style that shows almost no influence from the Asian mainland since they predate the introduction of Buddhism
- During the Edo period (1603-1867 AD) it is estimated that one out of ten Japanese conducted an Okage Mairi pilgrimage to Ise Grand Shrine
- The shrine is unique in that its buildings are rebuilt every 20 years. This 20-year refurbishment is known as the Shikinen Sengu. the process passes down the skills of shinmei-zukuri architecture to the next generation of Ise residents, meaning that the shrine will be rebuilt every 20 years for generations to come
Was established roughly two thousand years ago according to the oldest chronicles of Japan, Ise Jingu is regarded as the most sacred shrine in Shintoism. Its complex is vast, comprising one hundred and twenty five shrines, each dedicated to different deities. The most important of them is the inner shrine, Kotaijingu, dedicated to the supreme deity of Amaterasu-Omikami, the celestial sun goddess who is guardian and patron of the nation. Based on its parish register from the late 18th century, Ise Jingu had counted more than four hundred and twenty million households as its followers over the centuries since its inception.
To visit the inner shrine, one has to walk over an austere wooden bridge (above picture), leaving the secular world and entering the sanctuary. At the end of a long approach road, laid with cobblestone and lined with ancient trees, sits the shrine shrouded in serenity. The mirror, which is thought to be the manifestation of Amaterasu, is placed somewhere in the deepest enclave of this sacred palace. Contrary to its pedigree, the building may look rather new because the shrine renews the structure every twenty years using unpainted Japanese cypress trees, a tradition maintained for the past one thousand years.
Ise Jingu’s outer shrine is about 6 km or 4 miles apart from the inner shrine. It is dedicated to Toyo’uke-no-Omikami, a deity who is a provider of sacred food for Amaterasu and regarded as a guardian of agriculture and industry. This shrine also has a main building in ancient Japanese style.
Ise Jingu is located in Ise City, Mie Prefecture and reachable by train from Nagoya, which takes approximately one and a half hours.