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Ise-Shima National Park

Land area: 55,544 ha
Designated on 20 Nov, 1946

Photo: Ise-Shima

The Shimahanto Peninsula is blessed with a mild and warm climate. In addition to the subtle beauty of its rias coast, this area is famous for the Isejingu Shrine and other cultural assets. It is pleasant to see items of traditional beauty at the shrine and learn about their cultural background while feeling the sea breeze.

A Scenic Park Which Has Delicate Nature of the Sea

Map: Ise-Shima

Ise-Shima National Park is a coastal park which contains the Shimahanto Peninsula located in the east of the Kiihanto Peninsula, and the Isejingu Shrine and the woods behind it. On the coast, there are many bays such as Agowan Bay which is a famous scenic spot, Gokashowan Bay with a complex coastline which looks like a maple leaf, and Niewan Bay of which landscape includes many cultural objects. The park is very rich in attractive sceneries both land and sea.
The inland area of the park is on hilly land, most of which is 30 ? 50 m above sea level and has Mt. Asamagatake (555 m) as its highest peak. The coastal area has a rias coast created by repeated upheavals and subsidences. It presents a beautiful landscape with many indentations and several large and small islands scattered in bays.
On the shore at the east end of the park area, there are two large and small rocks which are joined with a large straw rope. They are collectively called Meotoiwa and serve as a torii, a shrine gate, of the Futamiokitamajinja Shrine in the sea. In spring and summer, around the time of the summer solstice, the sunrise can be seen between the two rocks. In Japan, when two large and small objects lie close together, it is customary to liken them to a married couple. If the two objects are rocks, they are called Meotoiwa, meaning a rock couple. While there are many pairs of rocks which are called Meotoiwa in Japan, this pair is the most famous.

Rich Nature Preserved by the Shrine Forest

The inland area of the park has been cultivated since early times, and much of the land is used for farms and planted forests. The forest of the Isejingu Shrine, which extends along the Isuzugawa River, has large areas of natural forests besides the planted forest of Japanese cypresses (Chamaecyparis obtusa). It is a mixed forest of evergreen broad-leaved trees of Japanese chinquapins, evergreen oaks and camphor trees, and coniferous trees such as Japanese red pines (Pinus densiflora). Since large natural forests are conserved in the shrine forest, tokiwamansaku (Loropetalum chinense) and other rare plants can be found here. In the coastal area, many evergreen broad-leaved trees including ubamegashi (Quercus phillyraeoides) grow and some seaside plants can be found in various places.
Regarding the fauna, many wild birds live in the shrine forest and in the sea, a large number of Japanese cormorants and other seafowl can be seen.

A Prosperous Hallowed Ground Since Early Times

The park is known for having the Isejingu Shrine, the central holy place in Japan which has been worshiped since olden days. It has been the custom to build the shrines every 20 years according to an ancient ritual. Agowan Bay is world famous for its pearl culture. Another specialty of the park is female divers who collect abalones and other shellfish in the sea. In Mt. Asamagatake rests Kongoshoji Temple, a Buddhist temple which is believed to have been opened in 825 by Kukai, a prestigious high-ranking priest. The recreation area on the mountaintop commands a great view.
As the public transportation system to and inside the park is well-developed, it is visited by many tourists, including worshipers to the Isejingu Shrine.

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