ISE SHRINEIse Shrine (Ise-jingū 伊勢神宮; alternately Grand Shrines of Ise or Ise Daijingū 伊勢大神宮) is a shrine to Shinto goddess Amaterasu ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. The city of Ise is serviced by JR trains from Nagoya and the southern coast of Wakayama. If coming in from Osaka, a slightly cheaper and faster option is to take the private Kintetsu line.
Officially known simply as Jingū or "The Shrine," Ise Jingū is in fact a shrine complex composed of over one hundred individual shrines, divided into two main parts. Gekū (外宮) or the Outer Shrine is located in the town of Yamada and dedicated to the deity Toyouke no ōmikami, while Naikū (内宮) or the Inner Shrine is located in the town of Uji and dedicated to Amaterasu ōmikami. The two are located some six kilometres apart, joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi.
According to the official chronology, the shrines were originally constructed in the year 4 BC, but most historians date them from several hundred years later, with 690 AD widely considered the date when the shrines were first built in their current form. They are mentioned in the annals of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki (dating from 712 and 720, respectively). The old shrines are dismantled and new ones built to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense. The present buildings, dating from 1993, are the 61st iteration to date and are scheduled for rebuilding in 2013.
Reputedly the home of one of the Japanese Emperor's Sacred Mirror, the shrine is arguably the holiest and most important Shinto site. Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the common public allowed to see little more than the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind three tall wooden fences.