Ise Grand Shrine, Mie Prefecture
First and foremost, Happy New Year to everyone and may God pour his love and blessings on you!
Before we start talking about the Shrine, let’s side-track a bit and talk about how Japan spends their New Year.
In Japan, the beginning of the New Year(shogatsu) is marked by several traditions named with the word hatsu, which means “first” in Japanese. Thus, we have hatsumode, which is the first visit to a shrine, hatsuyume, the first dream of the year, and hatsuhinode, the first sunrise of the year.
Hatsuhinode comes from a Shinto tradition that says that Toshigami, the kami of the New Year, must be greeted at the first sunrise, and they will bring good luck, well-being and health.
Beautiful sunrise that can be enjoyed anywhere in Japan
Hatsumode festivities are held at practically every shrine and temple across Japan during the first dew days of the year, especially on January 1.
At popular shrines and temples you can experience a festive atmosphere with food stands and many people lining up for a prayer at the main hall, purchasing lucky charms for a fortunate new year and disposing their lucky charms of the past year. Most atmospheric is a visit to a temple around midnight on New Year’s eve, when the temple’s bell is rung repeatedly.
Lucky charms also known as Engimono
Back to the main point. The Ise Grand Shrine. Japan’s holiest Shinto shrine. Located in Mie Prefecture, where the sun goddess Amaterasu is enshrined.
Officially known simply as Jingū , Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū and Gekū.
The Inner Shrine, Naikū, is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu, where she is believed to dwell. The shrine buildings are made of solid cypress wood and use no nails but instead joined wood. The Outer Shrine, Gekū, is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke-Ōmikami, the god of agriculture, rice harvest and industry.
The Inner Shrine, Naikū
The outer Shrine, Gekū
Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the common public not allowed beyond sight of the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. However, tourists are free to roam the forest, including its ornamental walkways.
The history of the shrine stretches around 2000 years back. Its founding is recorded in the NihonShoki. The daughter of the Emperor Suinin, Princess Yamatohime-no-mikoto, set out to find a suitable permanent location from which that holds ceremony for the goddess Amaterasu. She wandered the country for almost 20 years where she is said to have heard the voice of Amaterasu saying that the beautiful country of Ise would make a fitting home. Before the shrine’s consecration, Amaterasu was worshipped in the imperial palace.
An aerial view between the town, Mount Shimaji and