See some of the most impressive attractions in Ise with a visit to the bayside community of Futaminoura, a place of great cultural importance.
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Close to the eastern edge of the city of Ise lies an interesting collection of attractions in the area around Futaminoura Station. Despite several impressive historical and cultural landmarks, the Futaminoura area remains quite unknown by international visitors. Those who make the time to explore this fascinating bayside community are sure to be rewarded with some special sights, one of which you’re unable to find anywhere else in the country. Read on for an introduction to the sights of Futaminoura in the city of Ise.
Brief Background to the Futaminoura Area
Futaminoura sits to the east of Ise on the east coast of the Kii Peninsula on Ise Bay. Before 2005 the community belonged to the small town of Futami, with a population less than 10,000 people. However, it and several other small towns were merged into the city limits of Ise.
As Futami no longer exists as its own town, the best way to describe this part of Ise now is by its train station, Futaminoura, that provides access to this coastal community. The area not only features a long beachfront along the bay’s edge, but also plenty of nature over by Otonashiyama Park.
Best Places to Visit in Futaminoura
The main reason why you should look into paying a visit to Futaminoura is for the various fascinating landmarks and attractions found there. While not an exhaustive list, the following are some of the most popular in the area.
Meoto Iwa Rocks
The Meoto Iwa, also known as the Wedded Rocks, are one of the most picturesque and unique landmarks in the entire prefecture. They are two small rocky islands just off the coast that are connected by a large and heavy rope known as a shimenawa, a ritual item in the Shinto religion.
This binding between the two islands is where they get their name from. Meoto Iwa is considered a sacred site and is said to represent marriage among Shinto worshippers. At low tide the two rocks are revealed to be joined, but the site is far more picturesque at high tide and at sunrise when the sun appears between the two.
Futami Okitama Shrine
On the shore close to Meoto Iwa lies the Futami-Okitama Shrine, another important local Shinto site. The shrine is dedicated to several Shinto deities (kami) and features lots of frog statues, which are meant to help people or items come back or return. Typically, worshippers would first cleanse themselves at the Futami-Okitama Shrine before visiting the nearby Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan. Some people still follow this custom to this day.
A short walk from the Futami-Okitama Shrine you’ll find the Hinjitsukan, a 19th century guesthouse that now serves as a museum. The traditional guesthouse has been well-preserved, so visitors can see what it once would have been like for pilgrims and travellers who stayed there.
Hinjitsukan also now serves as a museum for interior decorations and furnishings from the Meiji Period, helping visitors gain a better grasp of life back then. Most impressive out of all the rooms there is the Grand Hall due to its gold-leaf ceiling and floor covered in 120 tatami mats.
ISE Sea Paradise
While the Toba Aquarium in the nearby city of Toba might be better known with international visitors, the ISE Sea Paradise aquarium is quite well-known within Japan. There you can see live shows and even interact with the animals, including walruses, seals, dolphins and small-clawed otters.
Tips for Visiting Futaminoura
- The best time to visit Ise and surrounding destinations like Futaminoura is from April to June after the cherry blossom season and before the hottest summer months.
- Futaminoura is of course not the only place to visit in Ise for sightseeing, with the Ise Grand Shrine the city’s most popular and important tourist attraction.
- Given how much there is to see in Futaminoura, it’s probably best to visit as a day trip from Ise or Nagoya, as you can fit the main sights easily into one day.
- If you do wish to spend longer here, there is a small selection of mid-range hotels in town.
Visiting Futaminoura with the JR Pass
Travellers exploring Japan by train with their Japan Rail Pass will find getting to Futaminoura an easy task. Travelling from either Nagoya or Toba you can take the Rapid Mie service on the Sangū Line, or the local service from Toba or Iseshi.