Traditional shopping area leading to japan‘s most sacred shrine
The Oharaimachi district is a traditional shopping area located in Ise, Mie Prefecture, Japan. It is situated near the Ise-jingu Shrine, which is considered the most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan. Oharaimachi is a kilometer-long street lined with old-fashioned shops and restaurants, offering visitors a glimpse into traditional Japanese culture and cuisine. In this article, we will explore the history, attractions, and unique features of Oharaimachi, as well as provide information on how to get there and what not to miss during your visit.
History of Oharaimachi:
Oharaimachi gained fame for its proximity to Uji Bridge, the entrance to the Inner Shrine of Ise-jingu. During the early 1600s, pilgrimages to sacred areas in Japan became popular after the end of the Sengoku civil war. Ise-jingu Shrine, being the most sacred site in Shintoism, attracted many worshippers. However, the journey to Ise was costly and time-consuming for commoners who lived far away. To overcome this, communities would pool their resources and send a representative to make the pilgrimage on their behalf. As a result, Oharaimachi developed as a center for pilgrims, providing them with food, accommodation, and entertainment.
Authentic Atmosphere of Oharaimachi:
Walking through Oharaimachi feels like stepping back in time to a traditional Japanese town. The street is lined with old-fashioned residences and features a stone-paved thoroughfare. The Isuzu River runs parallel to the street, offering a scenic backdrop for a leisurely walk. Oharaimachi is known for its impressive array of Japanese cuisine, traditional craftwork, and a wide variety of souvenirs. Visitors can explore the shops and indulge in local specialties such as akafuku, a mochi rice cake with sweet red bean paste, or Ise udon, thick noodles served in a rich, dark broth. Another popular dish is tekone-zushi, which consists of a bowl of rice topped with raw fish.
Curiosities and Unique Shops:
Oharaimachi is home to numerous fascinating shops, each offering something unique. Visitors can find typical Japanese souvenirs as well as one-of-a-kind gifts. For example, some shops sell honey made by bees kept right outside the store, while others feature beautifully carved statues made of stone, glass, or crystal. One shop even sells dried fish skins, which make for an interesting and unusual souvenir. Along the street, visitors can also witness artisans practicing traditional crafts at their workshops, adding to the authentic atmosphere of the area.
Halfway down Oharaimachi, visitors will find Okage Yokocho, a small district that recreates the traditional streets of Japan during the shogunate period. Here, you can experience what life was like in old Japan, with its narrow streets, wooden buildings, and traditional shops. Okage Yokocho is a popular spot for tourists looking to immerse themselves in Japanese history and culture.
Monthly Early-Morning Pilgrimage:
One of the unique experiences in Oharaimachi is the Tsuitachi Mairi, or the “First Day Pilgrimage,” which takes place on the first day of every month. Worshippers wake up early to visit Ise-jingu Shrine and pray for health, wealth, and bountiful harvests. Several shops in Oharaimachi open early in the morning for this occasion, and visitors can also explore the morning market, which remains open until 8:00 a.m.
How to Get There:
Oharaimachi is conveniently located near the Inner Shrine of Ise-jingu, making it easily accessible for visitors. If you have already visited the Outer Shrine in central Ise, you can take a bus from there to Oharaimachi, which takes around 10 to 15 minutes. If you are coming from elsewhere by train, Isuzugawa Station is the closest station to Oharaimachi. Buses from Isuzugawa Station to Oharaimachi run frequently and only take six minutes each way. Isuzugawa Station is accessible from major cities such as Nagoya, Osaka-Namba, and Kyoto via the Kintetsu Line.
In conclusion, Oharaimachi is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Ise, Mie Prefecture. The traditional shopping area offers a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and culture, with its old-fashioned streets, authentic atmosphere, and unique shops. Whether you’re interested in trying traditional Japanese cuisine, purchasing souvenirs, or simply strolling along the picturesque streets, Oharaimachi has something to offer for everyone. So, when you visit the Ise-jingu Shrine, don’t forget to set aside some time to explore this charming and historic district.
Address And Maps Location:
Ujiimazaike-cho, Ise-shi, Mie-ken