Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Japan 2009: Day 4 (Iseshi 伊勢市 and Meoto-iwa 夫婦岩)

We stopped by Ise Jingu 伊勢神宮(Ise Shrine) before heading to our ryokan near Meoto-iwa 夫婦岩. This shrine, also called the Grand Shrine, is the most famous shrine in Japan. It consists of two parts. Geku 外宮(Outer Shrine) is about 5 min walk from the station. Nothing much there. If you’re out of time, just go straight to Naiku 内宮 (Inner Shrine) where the activity is.

It started drizzling when we were at Geku so we decided to take a lunch break and hope the weather gets better. We tried Ise udon which is a dry style udon. Not bad. Like our dry noodles except it’s udon. No ingredients. Actually it's supposed to have some white and pink fish cakes but they ran out.

After lunch, the sun came out (thank God ^^) so we headed to Naiku. Naiku may be reached from Iseshi station or Geku by bus. When you board the bus, take a ticket. Your ticket indicates the stop number. The electronic board on the bus will display the amount you need to pay when you alight. From Geku to Naiku, it’s JPY410 (JR pass cannot be used).

That’s Uji bridge. I had wanted to catch the winter solstice sunrise here but the ryokan told us we’d have to take a 20-min taxi ride (ouch! That’s gonna cost an arm and a leg) and chris is too lazy to wake up early plus he is worried about me going alone. Oh, and it’s gonna be freaking cold too. On winter solstice every year, there is Toji Matsuri which is kinda a ceremony after which they azuki bean soup with yuzu. In Singapore, we also eat tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) during winter solstice. So anw, I gave it a miss even though I planned my trip so that we could stay here on 21 Dec (22nd is winter solstice).

Despite it being winter, the garden is still very beautiful and the walk through the shrine very pleasant. No photography is allowed within the main sanctuary.

After walking through the inner shrine, do check out the shopping and food street right next to the entrance where you can pick up some souvenirs, have a stroll or grab some bites. Worth trying is the BBQ meat and seafood skewers… we ordered chicken and beef… wa!! very very delicious. I also tried the matsusaka gyu 松阪牛 koroke (matsusaka beef croquette). Quite nice ^^

From Iseshi station, we took a 6 min train to Futaminoura 二見浦 station to get to our ryokan which is 2 mins walk from Meoto-iwa 夫婦岩 (Wedded Rocks), a very famous and familiar sight on postcards. There’s a legend about these two rocks here.
We took a couple shot but the wind was so strong that my hair was flying all over the place LOL

Access to Ise Shrine: Take JR Rapid Mie from Nagoya (about 1.5 hours) to Iseshi station. If you reserve a seat, you'll need to top up an extra JPY490 even if you have JR pass (ordinary)

Access to Meoto-iwa: Take JR Rapid Mie from Nagoya (about 1 hr 40 mins) to Futaminoura station and you've got to take a taxi i think. very near la, won't be too costly or you can stroll there lor. We had free shuttle to our ryokan and it's a 2 min walk from the ryokan ma.

Duration at Ise Shrine: about 30 mins for Geku, 1 hr at Naiku (excluding bus rides and shopping street outside Naiku)

Duration at Meoto-iwa: about 15 mins will do depending on how much you want to paparazzi the rocks. Evening time near sunset is nice. Peak season is in summer.