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Photo By: PIXTA/ y.uemura
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tsu
Population
1,857,365

Okage Yokocho

Walk through ancient Edo and Meiji period downtown streets and indulge in local delicacies.

By Alma Reyes

A visit to perhaps, Japan’s most consecrated shrine Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture would not be complete without a stopover at the ancient streets of Okage Yokocho in Oharaimachi, Ise city. The name of the neighborhood pertains to okage (generosity) by the yokocho (side road), which reflects the special kindness and hospitality offered by the townspeople of Ise towards traveling pilgrims to the benevolent shrine.

Okage Yokocho

Okage yokocho

Photo by: PIXTA/ y.uemura Many of the buildings now exist as souvenir stores and restaurants spanning generations.

Pilgrimages to Ise Jingu had begun to flourish since Edo times. Ise Jingu priests were said to perform Shinto music, dances, and rituals to cast away oharai (evil spirits) for the travelers who experienced hardships along the way; thus, the name Oharaimachi. In 1993, the same year as the shrine’s ritual reconstruction every twenty years, Okage Yokocho was built by the town’s confectionery makers, headed by Akafuku Company, as a gesture of gratitude for the prosperous business around Ise Jingu.

Just a stone’s throw from the entrance gate of the naiku (inner shrine), Okage Yokocho stretches to about one kilometer long, lined with nostalgic Edo and Meiji architecture. They have been renovated using traditional construction methods consisting of tsuga pine wood which is known to be durable against strong winds and rain.

One can find the Okage-za Mythical Hall where videos, 3D displays and a theater illustrate the origin of Ise and the world of Japanese mythology. Tsuboya, designed like a shrine, sells lottery tickets and also a wide array of interesting tobaccos. In the center of the village is the Taiko Yagura drum tower where taiko drum performances are held, adding cultural vibrancy to the street atmosphere.

Food Delights

okage yokocho

Photo by: PIXTA/ 7ayate.T Sweet bean paste from Akafuku is one of Okage Yokocho’s most sought-after delicacies.

During the high season, Okage Yokocho can get very crowded with visitors hungry for the numerous traditional gastronomic delights catered by around sixty establishments. Akafuku mochi, pounded rice cake with sweet bean paste, is regarded as the most sought-after delicacy. The original shop was established in 1877 and is located across Oharaimachi-dōri. Confectioners can also be seen making the mochi on the spot.

The popular Mitarashi-dango rice dumplings with varied flavors are also baked onsite. Sticky puddings diffusing a mellow and deep flavor of soy sauce are often lined up at Ise Shouronpo.

Matsusaka beef originating in Mie can be tasted ubiquitously in these streets: beef skewers at Dangoro Chaya and Matsusaka bone soup and ramen at Yokocho Soba Shouseiko, among others.

Things To Know

HOURS

Open daily 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. March to October, and 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. November to February. Restaurants are open until 8 p.m. depending on the season.

 

How To Get There

Address

By train

Take the Shinkansen to Nagoya station from Tokyo station, change to Rapid Mie or Kintetsu line to Iseshi station, and take a 17-minute bus ride bound for Ise Jingu (Naiku). Okage Yokocho is about a 5-minute walk from the shrine entrance.

By bus

From Iseshi station, and take a 17-minute bus ride bound for Ise Jingu (Naiku).

Where To Stay

Inishie no Yado Ikyu
  • 679-2 Uji Tachicho, Ise-shi, Mie, 516-0023 Japan
  • ¥54,600 - ¥192,400
  • 0.4 km
Hinode Ryokan (Mie)
  • 1-8-35 Fukiage, Ise-shi, Mie, 516-0073 Japan
  • ¥6,950 - ¥13,900
  • 4.36/5 (317 reviews)
  • 3.3 km
Comfort Hotel Ise
  • 1-3-26 Fukiage, Ise-shi, Mie, 516-0073 Japan
  • ¥9,500 - ¥54,100
  • 3.3 km
Ise Pearlpier Hotel
  • 2-26-22 Miyajiri, Ise-shi, Mie, 516-0072 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥104,170
  • 4.48/5 (1,485 reviews)
  • 3.4 km
EN Hotel Ise
  • 2-5-11 Fukiage, Ise-shi, Mie, 516-0073 Japan
  • ¥6,440 - ¥42,410
  • 4.02/5 (332 reviews)
  • 3.4 km

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