Poets, ninja and the mother of Japan
Discover the hidden home of Japan's mysterious ninja.
Mie is situated in the center of Japan’s main island Honshu, on the Kii Peninsula facing the Pacific Ocean. More than one-third of the prefecture is made up of national parks; its craggy mountains, misty forests and waterfalls were ideal for ninja training.
The birthplace of national poet Basho Matsuo, home of one of Japan’s oldest and most sacred shrines and part of the ancient Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route, Mie is Japan’s secret storybook.
The Real Ninja of Mie
For travelers wishing to learn more about how the art of Ninjas came to be, spend an afternoon exploring the Ninja Museum of Igaryu. End your day with a visit to Iga Ueno Castle while renting out a Ninja suit to try on.
One of the most famous landmarks in Mie prefecture is Ise Jingu (Ise Grand Shrine). Encompassing nearly one-fifth of Ise’s picturesque coastal city, it’s an important temple complex to see and experience, dating back to the 3rd century.
Nearby the Okage Yokocho is a maze of alleyways lined with traditional stores and restaurants – a great place to feast on Mie specialties such as tekone-zushi (marinated tuna) and akafukumochi (pounded rice cake with sweet bean paste).
From Ise Jingu, you can also trek the ancient Kumano Kodo trail, walking the 170-km Iseji pilgrimage route to Wakayama Prefecture. Further south lies the majestic Maruyama Senmaida Rice Terraces west of Kumano city. The agricultural region features some 1,340 rice paddies.
Toba and Shima
Visitors to Mie can easily visit the towns of Toba and Shima located on the Shima Peninsula. Here, you can spot traditional female ama (freedivers) at work. Historically, the ama dived for pearls while holding their breath for long periods and using special techniques to propel themselves to and from the seabed.
Take some time to explore the islands off Ago Bay’s coast with a cruise on the Kashikojima Espana modeled after a Spanish ship from the 16th century. There is also a Spanish-themed amusement park called Shima Spain Village, where visitors can enjoy various Spanish cuisine alongside park rides amidst a European backdrop.
Near the Nara border and the beautiful Soni Highlands, Nabari is a city home to the Akame 48 Waterfalls, a picturesque hiking spot for ninja in training. Despite its name, there aren’t 48 waterfalls, but there is plenty to see. Not to mention a giant salamander museum and real-life ninja school.
The mysterious forest boasts gorgeous koyo (autumn leaves) in autumn, cherry blossom viewing in spring, and challenging trekking in winter.
On the outskirts of Nabari lies Kanon-ji Temple. While any temple in Japan has its history and features, Kanon-ji is famous online for its seemingly out-of-place Sonic The Hedgehog statue. The statue founds its way to the temple years ago after a nearby Sega theme park closed down, and Sonic fans have been pilgrimaging to the site ever since!
Plan your trip to Mie with the links below!