Tradition and culture
The Natural Environment in Mie
Mie Prefecture is home to rich nature that has long been loved by tourists since ancient times, such as the series of Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes, which has been selected as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Higashi Kishu Area: Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes
Selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004 as the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range,” the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes is a collective designation of the old routes connecting Kumano, located in the southern part of the Kii Peninsula, with other cities and places such as Ise, Osaka, Wakayama, Koya, and Yoshino. Among the Kumano Kodo routes, the pilgrimage route to Kumano Sanzan (the three grand shrines of Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha) from Ise-Jingu is called the “Iseji route,” and has been popular as part of the Ise-Jingu pilgrimage route. The trail between Ise-Jingu and Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine stretches for approximately 170 km. Pilgrims and travelers need to walk through a series of many mountain passes along the Iseji route, including “Yakiyama-goe” (crossing Mt. Yakiyama), believed to be the hardest point in all of western Japan. While walking along the stone-paved path surrounded by ancient large trees, visitors may have the same experience their ancestors had when they were walking the same path.
Higashi Kishu Area: Rias Coast Line and the Art of Strangely Shaped Rocks & Giant Rocks
Along the Kumano coastline, visitors can enjoy artistic views of strangely shaped rocks and giant rocks created by ground uplift, weathering and the action of waves. “Oniga-jo,” which is designated as a National Scenic Beauty and a National Natural Monument, is impressive as if it were a demons’ dwelling place.
“Gama no Kuchi,” which can be seen from a boat cruising to see Tategasaki, is so beautiful that it is called the “Blue Cave of Kumano.” While fully enjoying the blue water and blue sky, visitors can appreciate nature’s dynamic beauty.
Ise-Shima Area: Beautiful nature often described as Japan’s Original Landscape
When it was decided that Japan would host the Ise-Shima Summit, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Large and small islands and the beautiful inlet?Ise-Shima is blessed with Japan’s quintessential natural scenery. I would like the world leaders attending to experience it firsthand, and I would like to enjoy the marvelous view of the area together with them.” Most parts of Ise-Shima, the summit’s venue, are designated as a national park. Kashikojima, the island where the summit is being held, is located in Ago Bay, one of Japan’s representative natural scenic areas with a spectacular sight of large and small islands as well as intricate inlets. Ago Bay is also known as the birthplace of the cultivation of perfect spherical pearls. Blessed with rich resources of marine products, the region is known as Miketsukuni, which used to be responsible for supplying food to the Imperial Court, and is known as a treasure house of cooking ingredients that Japan can boast of to the world.
Hokusei Area: Gozaisho Ropeway
Along the world’s largest-class Gozaisho Ropeway, with a total length of 2,161 m and height difference of 780 m, visitors can enjoy aerial views during the 12-minute gondola ride. In spring, breathtaking scenery of azalea blossoms can be enjoyed; in summer, cool weather and red dragonflies; in autumn, leaves tinged in various shades of red, yellow and brown that paint the mountains in colors from mid-October to late November; and in winter, when many skiers flock to Mie’s only ski resort, a snow-covered landscape with a scattering of frost-covered trees and ice cascades unfolds. This is an area that can be enjoyed uniquely in each season.
Chunansei Area: Osugidani
Osugidani is a mysterious land left in the upper reaches of the Miya River. The valley has steep cliffs with rapid currents and hundreds of waterfalls. Although this is an area of dense primeval forests, suspension bridges and a narrow trail have been built. Because the trail is very steep and impossible to travel on foot over the entire course in a day, this spot is best suited for intermediate- and advanced-level hikers. Along the mountain trail climbers will see seven waterfalls and cross eleven suspension bridges through the expansive and dynamic nature. Osugidani has been selected as one of the three best valleys in Japan and one of the 100 best mysterious lands of Japan.
This mountain trail, which had been closed since a disaster in 2004, reopened in 2014 with a ceremony announcing the opening of the mountain to climbers.
Iga Area: Akame 48 Waterfalls
Located in the northwestern part of Mie, the Iga area is home to the Akame 48 Waterfalls, which has been selected as one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan and one of the 100 best forests for forest bathing. A chain of many waterfalls extending over approximately 4 km forms a unique scene of spectacular waterfalls.
Among the many waterfalls, Ninaidaki is highly praised as the valley’s most scenic fall, which looks as if it was carrying something on its back as the water divides into two at a large rock while dropping down the 8 m-high waterfall. These waterfalls have long been objects of worship from ancient times, and visiting around the falls is known as taki-mairi (paying a visit to the waterfalls).