Mie Prefecture (三重県 Mie-ken) is located on the eastern side of the Kii Peninsula in central Honshū and bordered by Ise Bay to the east, Kumano Sea to the south, and Wakayama, Nara, Kyōto, Shiga, Gifu, and Aichi prefectures to the north and the west. The northern part of the prefecture consists of two-level areas; the Ise Plain along the coast and the Ueno Basin further inland, separated by low mountains. The climate is temperate along the coast but more extreme in the basins. The southern part of the prefecture is mountainous and covered in forests, with a milder climate and heavy precipitation.


According to the Kojiki (古事記), the name Mie (lit. "threefold") derives from Yamato Takeru, a legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty. When Prince Takeru set out to subdue the deity of Mount Ibuki, he had to overcome a heavy hail storm and then cross the Tagi Plain (當藝野). When he finally reached a village, he declared:

Ware ga ashi wa mihe no magari no shikushite ito tsukaretari.
My legs are bent three times, and extremely tired.
As a result, the village and the region were named Mihe or Mie. Yamato Takeru succumbed to his trials shortly afterwards.


Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩, the Wedded Rocks) near Futami


Numerous remains from prehistoric settlements and kofun (古墳, tumuli) bear witness to early habitation. The region developed rapidly in the early historical period due to its proximity to Kyōto and Nara, and the fame of the Ise Shrine is said to be established in the Yayoi Period. In the Nara Period, the Saikū (斎宮), an imperial palace complex close to the town of Meiwa, was constructed for Saiō or Itsuki no Miko (斎王). Saiō were unmarried female members of the Japanese imperial family, sent to Ise to serve at Ise Grand Shrine. After the Taika Reform (645 C.E.), the region was divided into the provinces of Ise, Shima, and Iga and came under the rule of a succession of feudal lords. In the Edo Period, the following domains (han) existed in Ise Province (伊勢国, Ise no kuni):
  • Tsu Domain (津藩 Tsu-han): 279,500 koku, fudai
  • Kuwana Domain (桑名藩 Kuwana-han): 113,000 koku, shimpan
  • Ise-Kamayama Domain (伊勢亀山藩 Ise-Kamayama-han): 60,000 koku, fudai
  • Hisai Domain (久居藩 Hisai-han): 58,700 koku, fudai
  • Nagashima Domain (長島藩 Nagashima-han): 20,000 koku, fudai
  • Kanbe Domain (神戸藩 Kanbe-han): 10,000 koku, fudai
  • Komono Domain (菰野藩 Komono-han): 10,000 koku, tozama
  • Tamaru Domain (田丸藩 Tamaru-han): 10,000 koku, fudai
The present name and boundaries of Mie Prefecture were established in 1876 when the old prefecture of Mie and Watarai Prefecture were united. The year 1876 also saw the Ise revolt (伊勢暴動 Ise bōdō), in which the rural population rose against the land tax reform of 1873. The rebellion spread to the neighbouring prefectures of Aichi, Gifu and Sakai (present-day Nara) and was quelled by the army and the police. As a result, the land tax was lowered in 1877.


Shishiiwa (獅子岩), the Lion's Rock in Shichirimihama


Rice, fruit, and vegetables are produced o the Ise Plain, while the city of Matsusaka is famous for its beef. Forestry is a significant economic activity in the southern parts. Heavy and chemical industries, along with what is left of the former textile and ceramics industry, centre on the cities of Yokkaichi and Suzuka in the north. The town of Toba was the centre of the first cultured-pearl industry.

Mie Facts:

  • 1,755,693 residents (November 2021)
  • 5,774.41 square kilometres
  • Population density: 304 inhabitants per square kilometre


Every year, the Ise Shrine, the principal Shintō shrine, brings numerous pilgrims and tourists to the prefecture. Other attractions include the pearl beds at Toba, the coastal scenery of the Ise-Shima National Park (伊勢志摩国立公園 Ise-Shima Kokuritsu Kōen) and the mountains of Yoshino-Kumano National Park (吉野熊野国立公園 Yoshino-Kumano Kokuritsu Kōen). The cities of Matsuzaka, Kameyama and Ueno still retain traces of castle towns and castle ruins.

Regions of Mie:

Mie Prefecture consists of five subregions (from north to south): Hokusei (北勢), Iga (伊賀), Chūnansei (中南勢), Nansei (Ise-Shima, 南勢 伊勢志摩), and Higashikishū (東紀州).

Map of Mie Prefecture

Things to see:


The northern part of Mie Prefecture offers spectacular mountain views, natural springs, and amusement parks like Nagashima Spa Land and the Suzuka Circuit.
  • Nagashima Spa Land (ナガシマスパーランド Nagashima Supā Rando) is an amusement park in Kuwana with a 90-metre Ferris wheel, several roller coasters, a water park, and three hotels. Yuami no Shima (湯あみの島) is an onsen theme park with 16 natural hot springs. Nabana no Sato Flower Garden (なばなの里) is a magnificent flower garden and one of the most famous illuminations in Japan (held from mid-November to early March).
  • Suzuka Circuit (鈴鹿サーキット Suzuka Sākitto) is a motor race track run by a Honda subsidiary and the venue of several Japanese Grand Prix events. Attached to the circuit is Motopia, an amusement park with several F1-related attractions, a water park, and Chiara's Hello Garden with its famous Denden Mushi ride.
  • Mount Gozaisho (御在所岳 Gozaisho-dake) is the centre of Suzuka Quasi-National Park; Gozaisho Ropeway connects the top of the mountain to the Yunoyama Hot Springs. In winter, the Gozaisho Ski Resort is top-rated.
  • Yunoyama Hot Spring (湯の山温泉 Yunoyama-onsen) is an onsen resort located near Mount Gozaisho in the town of Komono. The onsen is within the borders of the Suzuka Quasi-National Park.
  • Kameyama (亀山) was the 47th stop of the Tōkaidō connecting Tōkyō and Kyōto; the seki-juku (関宿) is located in the well-preserved historic districts.


The Iga area is renowned for its history of ninjutsu and the breathtaking views of the Akame 48 waterfalls. It is also the birthplace of the haiku poet Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644-1694).
  • Iga Ueno Castle (伊賀上野城 Iga-Ueno-jō), a Sengoku-era castle with a beautifully reconstructed tenshu, honmaru walls and other ruins.
  • Ninja Museum of Igaryu (伊賀流忍者博物館 Iga-ryū Ninja Hakubutsukan), a museum dedicated to history of ninjutsu and ninja. It displays hundreds of ninja tools and features a ninja village. Visitors can throw shuriken.
  • Bashō Museum (芭蕉翁記念館): dedicated to the poet Matsuo Bashō, who was allegedly born in Iga.
  • Akame 48 Waterfalls (赤目四十八瀧心中未遂 Akame-shijuhattaki), a series of numerous cascades that continue to the upstream of Akame river, home of the Japanese giant salamander.


The Chūnansei area is located in the centre of Mie Prefecture. It is home to several historical sites, including the Saigū Ruins and the city of Matsusaka, with its castle ruins and samurai residences. Sakakibara hot spring is one of Japan's top three hot springs in The Pillow Book. The famous Matsusaka beef cattle are bred in and around Matsusaka City.
  • Saikū Ruins: the Saikū (斎宮) was a palace and public office of the Saiō, an unmarried Imperial princess who served at Ise Shrine on behalf of the emperor. It dates back to the Nara Period and was designated a National Historic Site in 1979. The Saikū Historical Museum and the Itsukinomiya Hall of Historical Experience display artefacts of this vast excavation site which is still largely unexplored.
  • Matsusaka (松阪市): a former commercial centre and a castle town, Matsusaka Castle is one of the 100 Fine Castles of Japan although only the well-preserved stone walls remain. Gojōban Yashiki (御城番屋敷)is a traditional street adjacent to the castle with preserved houses from the Edo period that were inhabited by samurai, some of which are still inhabited by their descendants. The Motoori Norinaga Museum holds and exhibits about 16,000 artefacts related to Motoori Norinaga (本居宣長, 1730-1801), a medical doctor and leading scholar of kokugaku ("national studies"). The city is famous for Matsusaka beef, one of the Sandai Wagyū, the "three big kinds of beef" of Japan (along with Kobe and Yonezawa).
  • Sakakibara Onsen (榊原温泉): located near Tsu, the hot springs are considered some of the best in Japan.
  • Tsu (津) is the capital of Mie Prefecture. MieMu (三重県総合博物館) is the new Mie Prefectural Museum; Oda Nobukane, Nobunaga's son, first built Tsu Castle (津城); several moats and stonewalls survived, and some yagura were reconstructed; Mie Prefectural Art Museum (三重県立美術館), Japon Louvre Sculpture Museum (ルーブル美術館).


Ise-Shima is famous for abalone (蚫 awabi).


The Ise-Shima area is home to the Ise Shrine (the foremost of Japanese Shinto shrines), Meotoiwa (a rock formation in Futamigaura Cove, resembling a married couple), and its jagged coastline. The much-visited Ise Shrine consists of 125 sub-shrines, including its inner sanctuary, the Naikū (内宮), and the Outer Shrine, the Gekū (外宮). After visiting Ise Shrine, most visitors head to Oharai-machi, a town lined with souvenir shops and rest areas. In the fishing centres of Toba and Shima, travellers can learn more about the ama (fishing women) and their pearl-diving culture and enjoy the spectacular coastline that was the venue of the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in 2016. The Ise-Shima Skyline offers a series of observatories that allow visitors to enjoy magnificent views.
  • Ise Jingū (伊勢神宮): the Ise Grand Shrine and the Izumo Grand Shrine (Shimane) are the two holiest Shintō sanctuaries in Japan.
  • Oharai-machi (おはらい町): a small town along a stone-paved alley along Isuzugawa that starts at Ise-jingū's Uji Bridge (宇治橋) and runs a few hundred metres north, lined with old wooden buildings housing traditional souvenir shops, confectionaries, inns, a sake brewery, and even a Starbucks cafe. Okage-yokochō (おかげ横丁) is a shopping area recreated in Edo-era architecture.
  • Toba (鳥羽市): located on the northeastern tip of Shima Peninsula, facing Ise Bay of the Pacific Ocean to the north and east. Toba is well-known for oysters and cultured pearls and lies within the borders of the Ise-Shima National Park (伊勢志摩国立公園, Ise-Shima Kokuritsu Kōen). Places of interest: the ruins of Toba Castle, the Ise-Shima Pearl Museum (伊勢志摩真珠館), Toba Aquarium, Toba Sea-Folk Museum (鳥羽市立海の博物館), the Toba Observation Deck (鳥羽展望台), the Mikimoto Pearl Island (ミキモト真珠島), and the Ninja Samurai Kingdom Ise (ともいきの国 伊勢忍者キングダム), a theme park and hot spring spa centred around a replica of Azuchi Castle.
  • Shima (志摩市): the jagged coastline of Shima offers plenty of stunning vistas. Shima Spain Village (志摩スペイン村) is an Iberian-styled theme park with attractions and accommodation; the Mediterranean Sea Village Resort looks like a Mediterranean village with lodges and suites in south Italian style; Kashiko Island Espana Cruise: 50-minute cruises around Ago Bay on a cruise boat styled like a Spanish galleon, the Esperanza, with an obligatory stop at a pearl factory; Yokoyama Observatory (横山展望台) with a magnificent view of Ago Bay and its rias coastline; Anorisaki Lighthouse (安乗埼灯台).


The southern part of Mie Prefecture is home to the Kumano Kodō, a network of old pilgrimage routes registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 as part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. Kumano Kodō connects the Kii Peninsula's southern region, Kumano, with Ise, Ōsaka, Wakayama, Mount Koya, and Yoshino-Ōmine. The route section connecting Ise Shrine to the three Kumano Sanzan (熊野三山) shrines is called Iseji Road. The area around the Maruyama Senmaida paddy fields (selected as part of Japan's top 100 terraced rice paddies) is incredibly picturesque. This area is filled with plenty of other exciting sights, such as the demon-shaped Onigajō (鬼ヶ城), the lion-shaped Shishiiwa (獅子岩), and the shield-shaped Tategasaki (楯ヶ崎) rocks, as well as Japan's longest gravel beach, Shichirimihama.
  • Kumano Kodō (熊野古道): used for centuries for pilgrimage to the sacred site of Kumano Sanzan, the three grand shrines of Kumano: the Kumano Hongū-Taisha (熊野本宮大社), the Kumano Nachi-Taisha (熊野那智大社), and the Kumano Hayatama-Taisha (熊野速玉大社). They consist of three subroutes: the Kiji (紀伊路), the Kohechi (小辺路) and the Iseji (伊勢路).
  • Maruyama Senmaida (丸山千枚田): Maruyama is an area of Kumano famous for its terraced paddy fields, said to be the most picturesque in Japan. The best season to visit is in the early spring, when the paddies are filled with water, just before the rice is planted by hand.
  • Shichirimihama (七里御浜): called Japan's longest beach, Shichirimihama's gravel stretches for 22 kilometres and has spectacular views, like the Shishiiwa (獅子岩), the Lion's Rock.

Mie Gallery:

Click to enlarge.

Ago Bay Kashiko Island Espana Cruise
Gozaisho-dake, Suzuka Quasi-National Park Ise Jingū (伊勢神宮)
Kumano Hongū-Taisha (熊野本宮大社) Toba
Maruyama Senmaida (丸山千枚田) Matsusaka Castle
Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩, the Wedded Rocks) Toba Observatory
Oharai-machi (おはらい町) Iga Ueno Castle (伊賀上野城)


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