A visit to the Ise Grand Shrine begins in the nearby old town of Ise where for centuries pilgrims have come to pay respect to one of Japan's most holy Shinto shrines. Small gifts of offering may be purchased in the quaint shops and a traditional meal enjoyed. Then stroll the long-trodden path through the holy grounds among ageless cedars and lush woods across a rustic wooden bridge to the hand carved shrine. Traditional purification is done at the nearby water trough with little wooden spoons left there for worshipers. Peace and harmony prevails, quiet and a feeling of ageless sacred space. I have been told that Shinto is the soul of Japan, with its love of nature and nature spirits. Here the heart is at rest.
Every twenty years a new shrine is made by hand using ancient methods, even dragging huge logs to the site. Once the shrine is completed and available to worshipers, the old shrine is dismantled and parts sent to other shrines around the country. True to Shinto is the philosophy of change, mortality, and the cycle of the seasons.