The Gods' Capital
"New Years at Ise Shrine"
Ise City is famous for being the home of Ise Shrine, the most holy Shinto shrine in the world, and it's nickname is "Shinto", comprised of the characters that together mean "Capital of the Gods", different from the characters of the religion name. Pilgrimages have been made to Ise from all parts of Japan for centuries. Even today, people continue to come to Ise to pray and worship. Every year around New Years the Prime Minister of Japan travels to Ise to visit the shrine. Many Japanese people enjoy coming on New Years, both for worship and to scout out famous people, because of Hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the New Year. Although any shrine will suffice, many Japanese try to go to special shrines at this time, so January 1-3 is especially crowded at Ise. This is when I went. Some people may suggest avoiding Ise at this time, but in my opinion, it made the experience more memorable!
Meoto Iwa is Ise's second most famous sight. The rocks are Shinto holy sites, representing the union of Izanagi and Izanami, the creators of the Japanese archipalego.
Aside from these sites, Ise is home to Oharaimachi and Okage Yokocho, located near the Naiku Shrine of Ise Shrine. The streets are alligned with traditional houses and shops. Ise Udon and Ise Ebi (Shrimp) are famous delicacies from the city. Most of the shops in Oharaimachi sell Ise Udon, and some of them sell Ise ebi.
Ise is also home to an impressive replica of Himeji Castle, made by a local man as a hobby! Despite it being a hobby, the castle has been praised as being a great recreation of the original castle and castle grounds. It's received quite a lot of media coverage in Japan and has become a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Ise. It's out-of-the-way, but well worth a visit! I was quite impressed!
The Azuchi-Momoyama Castle and historic village is also in Ise. Sadly, I didn't get to go there. Ise is a great city with a lot of cultural and historical sites! It's well worth the visit!