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Tue, May 31, 2016 Ise-Shima: Experiencing a lifestyle close to nature
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The Ise-Shima area of Mie Prefecture is best known for its beautiful, indented coastline. But recently it's been in the news for another reason: it is the venue for the 42nd Group of Seven meeting, which is being hosted by Japan this year.

In this edition of Journeys in Japan, Sonia del Campo begins her journey on Kashiko-jima, a popular resort island which is where the G7 summit takes place. The island is also famous because this bay was the birthplace of modern pearl cultivation 110 years ago. Sonia goes out on a leisure boat to see the local bay with its pearl farms. She also visits a long-established pearl shop.

Next she travels to the town of Minami Ise. Since ancient times, people here have lived in this beautiful area, drawing on the bounty of the ocean and the mountains. Some ten years ago, the town launched a special program, offering visitors the chance to meet some of the local people and get a close-up look at their daily lives.

Sonia goes out with a fisherman to see how he catches his seafood. She helps a farmer harvest fruit in his citrus orchard. And she joins in a group of people who are making a traditional charcoal kiln. She discovers the beauty and charms of the Ise-Shima region - and the age-old lifestyle of the local communities.

"Minami Ise Taiken World" (Experience Minami Ise program)
"Minami Ise Taiken World" (Experience Minami Ise program)
Visitors can get hands-on experience of the way people actual live in Minami Ise Town. There are a range of options, including fishing, farming and charcoal making.
Reservations & inquiries: Minami Ise Tourist Association
Tel: +81 (0) 599-66-1717 (in Japanese only)
Nankai Tenbo Park
Nankai Tenbo Park
The park offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding landscape and beautifully indented coastline, all the way to the horizon.
Inquiries: Minami Ise Tourist Association
Tel: +81 (0) 599-66-1717 (in Japanese only)
Heart-Shaped Inlet (Kasaragi Pond)
Heart-Shaped Inlet (Kasaragi Pond)
When viewed from the Mieshima Observatory in Minami Ise Town, this lagoon appears to be heart-shaped. It has come to be a romantic sighseeing spot for couples.
Inquiries: Minami Ise Tourist Association
Tel: +81 (0) 599-66-1717 (in Japanese only)
New Hamaguchiya (Japanese-style inn)
New Hamaguchiya (Japanese-style inn)
Guests here are served the local foods of Minami Ise Town. One specialty is Sea Bream Cooked in a Salt Oven, which is prepared over the barbecue pit. This dish must be booked in advance, and is not available in the winter months.
Tel: +81 (0) 599-64-2052 (in Japanese only)
Matsui Pearls
Matsui Pearls
This long-established pearl dealer on Kashiko-jima Island has been in business since 1905.
Tel: +81 (0) 599-43-1015
From Tokyo, it takes about two hours by Shinkansen bullet train to Nagoya, and then another two hours on the Kintetsu Line to Kashiko-jima. There are also limited express trains to Kashiko-jima from Osaka and Kyoto. To reach Minami Ise Town, it's a 30-minute car ride.
Travel Log

Traveler: Sonia del Campo > More Info


Occupation:Translator, interpreter, narrator

Length of residence in Japan:Around 12 years (on and off)

Reason:I was selected as the first Spanish participant of the JET Program. I worked as a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) in Nagano for 3 years.

I have lived in Japan, on and off, for about 10 years and my relationship with this fascinating country started long before that. I have traveled quite extensively from Hokkaido to Okinawa, but somehow, I always feel Japan has something new, unique and special to offer me wherever I go. That was proved by my trip in Mie Prefecture.

I was fascinated by the beauty of Kashiko-jima and Minami Ise, where I traveled for this episode of Journeys in Japan. Kashiko-jima is a beautiful island and a renowned tourist resort. Minami Ise, on the other hand, is a traditional town where I had the chance to interact with its habitants and learn from their lifestyles. Both places were different, yet both unique and fascinating.

From Kashiko-jima, I went out on a sightseeing boat in Ago Bay, and found breathtaking views of the stunning, island-dotted coastline. I was very surprised to find in this area the existence of rías, funnel shaped narrow inlets in the seacoast formed by drowned river valleys.Rías are found in Northwest Spain, where my family is originally from, but I didn't know Japan also has the same type of rugged coastline. I was very surprised to discover this - and even more to find out that in Japanese, they use the original Spanish word, ría, for this geographical feature.

Pearl farming is the main business here and this is where the globally famous Mikimoto company started its business. I visited one of the oldest and most traditional pearl stores in Kashiko-jima and was mesmerized by the beauty of their pearls and of the shop itself - and by the long and amazing history of pearl farming in the area.

Minami Ise is quite different. It is a calm, pleasant village on the coast. There, I had the opportunity to get in touch with its people and with their daily activities. I made many "amigos" in Minami Ise. People were so incredibly open, easygoing and laidback that they reminded me a lot of the people of my own country, Spain, and of South America, where I lived for quite a long time too.

I was amazed that Mr. Hashimoto, who took me fishing on his boat, had previously lived in San Sebastián, a city in the north of Spain that I go to frequently. He was funny and loved making jokes. Ms. Tabata, who took me charcoal making in the woods, had lived in Colombia and spoke Spanish too. She was one of the nicest, most nature-loving and knowledgeable people that I've met lately. Mr. Yamade, who took me fruit picking, was a truly mood maker and a really funny person. The family at the ryokan where I stayed couldn't have been nicer, more easygoing and generous.

I was incredible pleased to see how all these people loved to interact with visitors and let me participate in their daily activities. I truly felt part of their communities and their lives. I know people in Japan are usually nice and polite wherever you travel, but people in Minami Ise were not only that, but much more. They were friendly, funny and easygoing - the type of people you want to call your "amigo" all your life.

I would love to go back to Kashiko-jima and Minami Ise, to again enjoy the stunning landscapes and the amazing food - but mostly for the genuine and wise lifestyle of the people. ¡Hasta la vista, amigos!

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