Ise Jingu, officially ‘Jingu’, includes 125 jinja (Shinto shrine), centered around Kotaijingu (Naiku), dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, and Toyo’uke-daijingu (Geku), dedicated to Toyo’uke-no-Omikami. Its area is approximately the same size as the Center of Paris. Every year more than 1,500 rituals are performed to pray for the prosperity of the imperial family, world peace and the great harvest.
Amaterasu-Omikami was originally worshiped in the Imperial Palace by successive emperors of Japan. However, during the reign of the tenth Emperor Sukhin, the Sacred Mirror (the symbol of Amaterasu-Omikami) was transferred from the Imperial Palace. Then, during the reign of the eleventh Emperor Suinin, the emperor ordered his princess, Yamatohime-no-mikoto, to find the most appropriate place to consecrate and permanently worship Amaterasu-Omikami. After searching in many regions, the princess finally received the revelation that Amaterasu-Omikami should be consecrated and eternally worshiped at Ise. About 2,000 years ago.
In the era of the 21st Yuryaku Emperor, about 1,500 years ago, Toyo’uke-no-Omikami was, according to another revelation from Amaterasu-Omikami, summoned from northern Kyoto prefecture and consecrated at Ise.
Kotaijingu (Naiku) is the most venerable shrine in Japan. Here is a jinja (Shinto shrine) dedicated to Amaterasu-Omikami, the ancient kami (Shinto deity) of the imperial family. It was consecrated in Naiku some 2,000 years ago and has been revered as Japan’s guardian.
The Sacred Mirror (a symbol of Amaterasu-Omikami) is enshrined within the main sacred shrine in the innermost courtyard and is enclosed with four rows of wooden fences. Pilgrims generally worship the consecrated kami in front of the third row gate of the fence.
The Ujibashi Bridge spans the Isuzugawa River at the entrance to Naiku and is said to separate the sacred precinct from the everyday world. The architectural style of the Ujibashi Bridge is purely Japanese and its length exceeds 100 meters.
This bridge is rebuilt every twenty years as part of Shikinen Sengu (a periodic transfer of the divine symbol to a divine shrine that is rebuilt every twenty years).
The Ise Jingu rituals and ceremonies to pray for the prosperity of the imperial family, world peace and the great harvest are performed by the Jingu priesthood under the direction of the direct descendant of Amaterasu-Omikami, the Emperor. Therefore, these rituals and ceremonies performed in Jingu can be called imperial rituals.
These rituals are roughly divided into three groups. The first includes daily and annual rituals performed regularly. The second are extraordinary rituals, which are performed on special occasions for the benefit of the Imperial Family, the nation, or Jingu. The third is the rituals that Shikinen Sengu performs every twenty years. For certain important rituals among these groups, the Emperor sends the Imperial messenger to Jingu to dedicate textiles called heihaku.
The Ise Jingu Shrine is listed as the most important in Japan. It is located in Mie prefecture.