One of Japan’s most popular resort areas, Shima City can offer the perfect paradise vacation for any tourist. Located in Mie Prefecture, neighboring Ise and Toba city, Shima hosts some of the most beautiful bays and coves in all of Japan. From Tokyo, it’s about a 4-hour train ride, and from Kyoto, only around a 3-hour train ride.
In this article, we want to mention the top 10 things to do in Shima in order to give you some better insight of the activities and restaurants that we recommend you experience.
Located in a dangerous area of the Pacific Ocean, dividing the Kumano Sea and the Enshu Sea, the Daiosaki Lighthouse is open to the public to enjoy a specatular view from above. From the top, you can see the beautiful town of Nakiri and witness the strong currents against the stones below. Leading up to the lighthouse are many shops selling pearl accessories, restaurants/cafes and many other variety good stores. There is also a deck that sticks out a little before visitors reach the lighthouse offering a great view of both the sea and lighthouse. The scene has inspired many paintings of its natural beauty. It is said that you can perceive the roundness of the earth first hand from the top of the lighthouse.
Izawanomiya Shrine: Located just 3 minutes away from Kintetsu Kaminogo Station, Izawanomiya Shrine is rich with history. It is also designated as a Cultural Property by the National Government. Established around 2,000 years ago during the era of Emperor Suinin, Izawanomiya is among the Betsugu, the Annex of the Inner Shrine of Ise Grand Shrine, dedicated to the spirit of Amaterasu Omikami. Like the Ise Grand Shrine, it is rebuilt every 20 years to help preserve the original architects design and to not be forgotten by time.
As you enter from the main gate, you are greeted by lush green trees and a beautiful pathway leading to the shrine. Once you pass the initial batch of sky high trees, you will need to wash your hands before proceeding to the shrine at the end of the pathway. The wooden architecture and white stones surrounding the shrine make for a perfect picturesque spot for any visitor. There is truly something special with the tranquility and beauty this shrine gives off.
Izawanomiya Otaue Festival is also held here on the 24th of June every year. It is an officially recognized cultural event and only held in three shrines in Japan. It is a religious ceremony, which starts with praying, followed by a dance while planting rice. It is believed that dancing will entertain the spirits leading to good harvest.
If you happen to visit this area, we highly recommend this spot to be added to your itinerary.
Built in 1873, Anorisaki Lighthouse was the earliest lighthouse to begin operation between Ise and Kumano. Located on Cape Anorisaki, also part of the Ise-Shima National Park, this lighthouse is a square lighthouse that stands between the Matoya Bay and the Pacific Ocean. it was designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Asset by the Government. As you arrive at the lighthouse, there is a spacious park where you can enjoy the view and the nice breeze. This area could be perfect for a picnic or any type of park activity. Towards the lighthouse, visitors can experience a terrific view of the ocean from all sides, with the greatest view at the top of the lighthouse. In Ideal weather conditions, Mt Fuji is visible from the top. It is also a popular spot to view the first sunset of the year. The stark contrast of the pure white lighthouse and crystal blue waters make for quite the stunning view. If visitors don't want to climb to the top of the lighthouse, the view from the base of the lighthouse is also very beautiful giving you a nice 180-degree perspective.
Shima Nature School: For those that enjoy activities and want to experience some of Shima's beautiful nature in a more adventurous way, this school is perfect for you. Located in Tomoyama Park facing Ago Bay, this school offers fun activities for all types of visitors including, kayaking, running in a waterball, cycling and many more. Some of the amazing islands located within Ago Bay are accessible via kayak for visitors to get an upclose view of these amazing nature spots, something that Shima City is very famous for. The guides are all very professional and will assist visitors with any questions if they may have some. Running in the waterball is also a very exciting activity that is a must for anyone that wants to get a light workout in while rolling around in a plastic ball.
One of the most popular resort cities in Japan, it's no wonder Goza Shirahama Beach boasts some of the clearest water and white sand, very popular amongst both locals and tourists. During the summer season, this beach is the main attraction for locals as it was ranked amongst the top 100 beaches in all of Japan in 2006 by the Japanese government. There are shops and restaurants close by the beach as well as rental water gear available. There are also several pontoons placed in the water where you can jump off or relax on.
If you come to Shima City, visitors must head to some of the amazing beaches that this area offers. Ago no Matsubara is no different. Home to some of the most beautiful crystal clear waters and white sand make this beach a definite must for your Shima City adventures. The vibrant local surfer community is a good example of just how popular this beach is all year round. Due to the calm but consistent waves, this beach makes for the perfect surfing spot for any level of surfer. Despite the beach only stretching over 3km, the beach seems very spacious perfect for a nice family getaway. Seaside Cottages open in the summer to enjoy the beach and beautiful weather. There are old-fashioned villages and town shops, along with eating and drinking establishments around the area for the beachgoers to enjoy. If you need to shower off the sand before hopping into your car, there are also facilities to do so very near to the water. If visitors prefer not to enter the water, there are steps available for sitting or relaxing.
There are many wonderful locations in Shima City for visitors to experience a nice view of Ago Bay, but Kirigaki Observatory is one of the best to view the sunset in this area right above the bay, and is a popular photo spot. Located within Tomoyama Park on the east side of Ago Bay, Kirigaki Observatory is accessible by car and definitely worth the trip. It's hard to showcase the beauty of this sunset just through pictures so if you have the chance, Kirigaki Observatory should be on everyone's itinerary.
Here at Satoumian, visitors can sample freshly caught seafood grilled over charcoal by a real Ama and have the chance to ask them questions about their experience working as one. Ama are traditional Japanese deep-sea divers historically known for collecting pearls and catching seafood, a practice that is over 2,000 years old. There are currently 750 estimated Ama residing in this area. Here at this restaurant, seating is called "horigotatsu" or where there is a large space in front of the bench to place your legs with a small table for eating in front of you. In the middle of the table is where the Ama will charcoal grill the seafood in front of the customers. Try everything from turban shell, squid, octopus, etc. with traditionally cooked rice.
If you're lucky, you just might see the Ama diving as you enjoy a meal in the hut.
With a population of less than 100, this island located in the center of Ago Bay makes for the perfect relaxing day trip away from crowds of people. Accessible by both ferry and kayak, Masakijima has a gorgeous little beach perfect for a small picnic, water activities, such as scuba diving or snorkeling or sunbathing by the beach. Venture inland and experience an off the beaten path small neighborhood within Shima City
Shima City boasts countless amazing views from various locations with the observation deck from Yokoyama as one of the more spectacular ones. Here visitors can witness an amazing view of Ago Bay from an elevation of 203m.You may also see the location of the Ise-Shima Summit from here. The facilities up to the deck are also constructed in order to support disabled people. There are also very informative maps around the deck helping visitors pinpoint key landmarks across the bay. There is also a beautiful cherry blossom festival held here every spring.