The Shrine At Ise

By Lily O.


The Shrine at Ise is located in Southern Honshu, Japan, next to the Isuzu river. The Shrine is surrounded by a dense forest, and is between the mountains of Kamiji and Shamiji.
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Over six million pilgrims come to the Shrine at Ise every year. This sacred landmark was designated as a national treasure by the Japanese government, and is a very popular destination in Japan year-round. This is the most important Shrine of the indigenous Shinto religion, based on it's sacred forest of trees and rocks. The Shrine at Ise is a spiritual home for the followers of Shinto, and most try to visit there as a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
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The Shrines

The Inner and Outer shrines of Ise are rebuilt every twenty years (ever since it was built in the 600's), and costs around 500 million dollars to rebuild today. These shrines take around 10,000 trees, along with thousands of hours of hard labor.
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The Shinto Religion

Shinto is the official religion of Japan, and claims that sacred spirits (called Kami) live in trees and rocks. Kami are worshiped during special festivals, which are called Matsuri. Followers of Shintoism also believe that the mysterious forces of nature, known as Ke (pronounced "kay") create mononoke. Mononoke are similar to Kami spirits, but instead cause people to suffer by diseases or just make them have miserable lives.


The Shrine at Ise is thought to be deeply sacred because of the forest that surrounds it. Since trees and rocks are highly worshipped by the Shinto followers, they believe that many sacred spirits live in the forest. Mononoke is seen to coalesce through the cypress trees and large boulders.

THE beginning of the inner shrine

The Shrine at Ise has long been sacred due to it's surrounding forest of Japanese cypress (Cryptomeria) trees. Before the Shrine at Ise was built, only trees and rocks were the main focus of worship by the Shinto followers. During the later third century, the inner shrine began construction by orders of the Emperor Temmu, who used the wood from the surrounding trees to build the shrine. He used the trees from the same forrest because he wanted the spirits and the tree's sacredness to transfer into the building. Twenty years later, the Shrine at Ise was rebuilt by his wife, Empress Jitu. Empress Jitu used wood from a close by forest instead of Ise's, for it's trees were too sacred to cut down.When she ordered it rebuilt, it was thought to still be equally as sacred, even with the regular wood.
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The beginning of the outer shrine

Two centuries later after the Inner shrine was built, construction began on the outer shrine. With such a large building, it took around ten years to design, build, and to bring all of the wood from a separate forrest. The outer shrine was built not only to be sacred, but to protect the inner shrine's spirits.

The Futami Okitama shrine

The Futami Okitama shrine is around fifteen kilometers away from the city of Ise, and is symbolized as man and woman. The two rocks that are directly on the seacoast of Ise claim that it is good luck to go if you are recently married, or if you want a healthy and long lasting relationship. The rock that symbolizes man is nine meters tall, and the woman is four meters. The rocks are hung together by a long rope bridge.
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Works Cited

Birdseye view of the Inner and Outer Shrines. Detail Inspiration., 2002. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <>.

The Bridge to the Shrine at Ise. Shima Peninsula Travel., 2016. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <>.

The Futami Okitama Shrine. Trip Advisor. Trip Advisor, 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2016. <>.

Gray, Martin. “Ise.” Sacred Sites. N.p., 1986-2016. Web. 3 Feb. 2016. <>.

“Ise Shrine- Ise, Japan.” Sacred Destinations. N.p., 2005-2016. Web. 7 Feb. 2016. <>.

Ise Shrine- Japan. Journeyman Pictures, 2007. Film.

Map of Shrine at Ise. Chrispy Thoughts. Chrispy Thoughts, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <>.

Map of Shrine at Ise. Geku. Isejingu, 2016. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <>.

The Rebuilding of the Shrine at Ise. New World Encyclopedia. N.p., 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <>.

Shintoism sign. School Work Helper. School Work Helper, 2010. Web. 1 Mar. 2016. <>.

Shrine at Ise. Japan Guide., 1996. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. <>.

Witcombe, Christopher L.C.E. “Sacred Places: Shrine at Ise, Japan.” Sacred Places. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2016. <>.