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photo of Ise-Shima National Park

Characteristics

Ise Jingu, a site where a long, splendid, multifaceted history unfolds. Satoyama and Satoumi, a land of enrichment interweaved with the workings of people and nature.
Date of Designation: November 20, 1946
Area: 55,544 ha
Related Prefecture: Mie
Ise-Shima National Park lies on the Shima Peninsula, which is set in the center of Mie Prefecture, and its surrounding areas. It expands over the cities of Ise, Toba, Shima, and Minami-Ise, occupying a vast area of nearly 60,000 hectares. Ise-Shima National Park is broadly divided into two areas. One is the inland area where the Ise Jingu is situated surrounded by a forest environment. The other is a coastal area noted for complex terrain and geological features dotted with a myriad of inlets and capes as typified by the ria coast.
By contrast, the park boasts an extremely high proportion of private land (over 96%) and has a large residential population within the park. For that reason, the biggest feature of this park is to be able to come in close contact with local people's livelihoods, history, culture and customs, and visitors can appreciate the beautiful landscapes as well as the relationship between people and nature.

Terrain/ Scenery

photo of Ria Coast

Ria Coast

On the coast off the Shima Peninsula, the land went through repeated sedimentation and prominence to form a complex landform of a ria coastline abounding in capes and inlets, which were created by seawater entering the areas that were previously rivers and valleys. Due to this, there are numerous sea cliffs and sea caves around the capes and beaches facing the outer sea.
photo of Karst Landscape (Kamishima Island)

Karst Landscape (Kamishima Island)

In addition, the karst landscape found on the Kamishima Island is a unique landform formed by erosion of limestone by rainwater and groundwater.

Plants

Flora Found in the Mountains
Though Shima Peninsula could be envisaged as an area densely populated with evergreen trees mainly Castanopsis and Japanese oak trees over a large area, there were inhabitants of humans from early on and the nature went through some changes. Today, the flora found here is mostly a second-growth forest consisting of dwarf trees of Quercus phillyraeoides, Ilex pedunculosa, Pinus densiflora and the like. Despite this, part of the forest owned by temples and shrines such as the Ise Jingu abounds with interesting flora including the Loropetalum chinense and Rhododendron sanctum, in terms of the plant ecology and distribution. Visitors can observe a typical warm-temperate forest that are remnants of the ancient forest.
photo of Jingu's Divine Evergreen Forest

Jingu's Divine Evergreen Forest

Coastal Flora
Due to the landscape of ria coastline in the Shima Peninsula, the area lacks large sandy beaches topographically and is not populated with seaside plants. However, there are sand dunes in beaches such as Koushirahama and Hironohama and on the Wagu-Oshima Island, where coastal flora bears beautiful flowers for a prolonged period from early summer to late fall. These plants grow in a harsh environment that the sea breeze constantly moves sand around. From the foreshore to the land, visitors can observe a regularly-distributed pattern of flora adopted to the area's changing environment.
photo of Crinum asiaticum L. var. japonicum on the Wagu-Oshima Island

Crinum asiaticum L. var. japonicum on the Wagu-Oshima Island

In the backdrop of those plants and trees, the sandbars situated adjacent to the mouth of Iseji River in the Gokasho Bay are a scrub forest of Hibiscus hamabo, which is a family of hibiscus. In the summer, visitors can enjoy a splendid view filled with beautiful tropical flowers.
photo of Hibiscus Hamabo

Hibiscus Hamabo

Seagrass Beds
The stretch from the mouth of the Ise Bay and the coast off the Shima Peninsula is a shallow sea with a depth of 20 to 30 m that the rays of the sun reach, forming rich seagrass beds favored by the nutrients from the mountains and sea.
The inland seas such as Toba Bay, Matoya Bay, Ago Bay and Gokasho Bay have a distribution of beds of Zostera and Sargassum, while there are beds of Eisenia, Sargassum, wakame seaweed and Gelidium distributed around the outer sea and the periphery of remote islands, making them a cradle of marine resources in the Ise-Shima area.
photo of Seagrass Beds (Arame Beds)

Seagrass Beds (Eisenia beds)

Wildlife

The inlets around Toba Bay and Ago Bay are an excellent observatory for large flocks of black-tailed gulls and herring gulls from a ship. Also, the coast off the Kumano-nada Sea abounds with rocky shores, cliffs, and rock ledges, making it a habitat for rare birds such as the Pandion haliaetus haliaetus; a fish-eating raptor, Phalacrocorax capillatus, Monticola solitaries, Calonectris leucomelas and the Egretta sacra. The sandy beaches across the park are egg-laying sites for loggerhead turtles.
photo of Loggerhead Turtle

Loggerhead Turtle

The coastlines off the coast of the Kumano-nada Sea are a well-developed rocky shore, making it suitable to observe seashores. The biological communities in the rocky intertidal zone (a zone between the high-water line and low-tide line) are particularly marked with variations as it is abundantly inhabited by relatives of the Japanese goose barnacle and Balanomorpha, as well as Japanese spiny lobster.
In addition, a tide pool, a puddle of water left when the ocean recedes, is a habitat for families of sea anemone, shrimp and goby and is a site to behold the independent ecosystems unique to the seashore environment.
photo of Observing Marine Life in a Tide Pool

Observing Marine Life in a Tide Pool

Culture

The Ise-Shima area abounds with shrines and temples that are closely related to the lives of people, and each element of nature encompassing livelihood, history, and culture can still be observed in the vicinity of people's lives as Satoyama and Satoumi (community- based forest area and secondary ocean).
photo of Uji Bridge and Torii Gate

Uji Bridge and Torii Gate

Ise Jingu
Through centuries, people have worshiped the sun as a deity. Ise Jingu is placed at the center of this belief and is composed of nearly 125 shrines centering on the inner shrine and outer shrine.
photo of Sunrise of the Meoto Iwa Rocks

Sunrise of the Meoto Iwa Rocks

Meoto Iwa Rocks in Futami
Since ancient times, Meoto Iwa Rocks, or the Married Couple Rocks, have been known as a place to worship the sunrise. From May to July, visitors can watch a sunrise rising from between the Meoto Iwa rocks, and clear days near the summer solstice are an especially good time to watch the sun rising from behind Mt. Fuji in a distance.
photo of Ama (female divers) Fishery

Ama (female divers) Fishery

photo of Abalone

Abalone

Ama Fishery
Traditionally, Shima has been known as the Miketsu Kuni ("land of divine offerings") since ancient times. The Miketsu Kuni refers to a region where it offers the bounty of the land and sea to the Ise Jingu, and Shima's rich marine resources and ama (female divers) have long supported such a regional tradition.
photo of Shio-Kake Festival

Shio-Kake Festival (Seawater Splashing Festival)

Festivals in the Ise-Shima Area
The fishermen and Ama (female divers) working in the ocean often worship the deity for maritime safety and a rich haul. Ise-Shima abounds with many temples and shrines in various places that have served to pray for those working in the sea, and there are festivals associated with the belief. The Shio-Kake Festival (Seawater Splashing Festival) is a unique festival with its history of nearly 790 years where participants splash each other with seawater.