Gekū (外宮), Ise Shrine.

Ise Grand Shrine

Taking a detour to Ise Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮) recently on the way to Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture was a delight. Once again visitors were few which meant more time to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

The shrine, the most important in Japan, is believed to host the sun goddess Amaterasu so visitors aren’t allowed into the main complexes. Wandering the surrounding forest and relaxing next to the Isuzu River (五十鈴川・Fifty Bells River) of Naikū (内宮), however, is and if there are few visitors becomes a wonderful way to pass a few hours.

Years ago I wandered the complexes with my Leica M6 and a roll of film and came away empty handed. Despite Ise Grand Shrine’s uniqueness it’s a difficult place (for me) to photograph but that’s only because I’ve yet to spend long enough there, walk the grounds at the right time of day, or visit one of the annual festivals.

So one day, in better light, I want to spend a full weekend wandering the city, visiting more of the smaller shrines and taking my time with the camera.


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Based in Japan since 2001 I spend free days adventuring into the mountainous regions of central Honshu and occasionally Hokkaido. In 2021, I plan to slow down and talk to more people. Feel free to email me.

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