Written by ChadMartin
My otaku side brought me toNagoya, Japan in 2012, but I stayed for the food, countryside towns, andgorgeous mountain scenery. I was born and raised on the east coast of theUS, but I dare say I never grew up. I never shut up about Japan.
Just around the corner from Ise Jingu (Naiku, the Inner Shrine), there’s a hip and happening street where all the visitors to the shrine come after they’ve said their prayers, received their charms.
After all that heavy stuff, not to mention how much walking is involved, anyone is bound to have worked up quite the appetite.Along Okage Yokocho, you’ll find a plethora of unique Japanese dishes not found anywhere else.
Not to mention, a very fun and lively atmosphere that’s sure to be unforgettable.
There are plenty of small shops offering delicious treats and interesting souvenirs.
Many offer places to eat outside, so that you don’t have to miss the atmosphere for a moment. You can even see some very fresh seafood being sold market-style along the way.
I visited on a cold January morning, so I actually hopped into Okage Yokocho before tackling Ise Jingu.
I needed a warm pick-me-up and found just the thing: a warm bowl of zenzai with mochi. Zenzai is a warm, thick soup of sweet beans. Mochi is a chunk of chewy rice cake submerged in the zenzai, making it nice and gooey.
Okay, I do realize that doesn’t sound appetizing to the typical foreigner visiting Japan, but I highly recommend it on a cold day.
You may have heard of udon, a type of Japanese noodle characteristically thick and a bit chewy. I’d never tried udon before visiting Japan, but now I truly believe it is the one noodle to rule them all.
At Fukusuke, you can get a unique local take on udon.
The famed Ise Udon comes served in more of a thick soy sauce-based sauce, rather than broth, as is usual. What’s more, the noodles are boiled for an entire hour, and kept for a day before being served. This gives them a delicate tenderness that makes the dish a very light treat. An important thing if you intend to eat at as many restaurants as possible while here!
The environment of the Ise area is great for growing tea. As it was explained to me by the ladies at the tea shop, it’s due to the wide difference in temperature in Ise from winter to summer, and the fact that they have a lot of fog. There are abundant sources of fresh water as well.
Like I mentioned before, Okage Yokocho is right next to the Naiku, or Inner Shrine of Ise Jingu. You can get to Ise City by train at Iseshi Station via JR or Kintetsu Lines, most easily accessible from Osaka and Nagoya.
From this station, you can head to the Geku (outer) Shrine, take a bus to Naiku, and create your own memorable experiences along Okage Yokocho.