Mie Prefecture is one of Japan’s hidden gems. Despite a wealth of varied attractions, many visitors to Japan bypass Mie in favor of nearby destinations such as Kyoto and Osaka. If you’re thinking of wandering off the beaten path and trying to decide where to stay in Mie, our list of the best areas and hotels to stay in the prefecture is for you.
Main image: PIXTA
All About Mie
Mie Prefecture is located in Japan’s Kansai region, sandwiched between the cities of Nagoya to the east and Nara, Kyoto and Osaka to the west. With over 1,000 kilometers of coastline, much of Mie faces out onto the sea. Most of the Mie’s main cities are dotted along the shore, overlooking Ise Bay. Come inland and you’ll find stunning natural landscapes, with forests filled with beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails through mountain ranges.
Featuring a wide variety of landmarks and tourist attractions, Mie Prefecture offers something for everyone. Mie is home to one of the most important religious sites in Japan, the Ise Grand Shrine, as well as ancient pilgrimage routes that form part of the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of Mie’s most famous landmarks is the Wedded Rocks. The two sacred stones are joined together by rope that sit side by side in the sea near Ise and are a popular destination for couples.
Mie is also famous for its many amusement parks, including the roller coasters of the Nagashima Resort, the samurai-themed Ninja Kingdom Ise, and the Spanish themed Shima Spain Village.
How to Get to Mie
Mie can be reached by train from several nearby cities. One of the easiest options is to go via Nagoya in the west of Aichi Prefecture, not far from the border with Mie. There are direct trains from Nagoya Station to all of Mie’s major cities along Ise Bay.
From Tokyo to Iseshi Station (Ise):
Take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen to Nagoya Station (around 1 hr 37 min). Then change to the JR Rapid Mie bound for Toba, to Iseshi Station (around 40 min).
From Osaka to Iseshi Station:
From Kintetsu Osaka-Namba Station, take the Kintetsu limited express all the way to Kintetsu Iseshi Station (around 2 hours). Note that a brief transfer at Kintetsu Tsu Station may be required.
To save on transportation costs during your trip to Mie Prefecture, you may wish to consider the following rail passes.
Getting Around Mie Prefecture
As much of the prefecture is very remote, you may want to consider hiring a car to really get the most out of a trip to Mie. Large areas of Mie are not served by train lines, especially in the more rural areas away from the cities on the coastline. If you’re looking to explore some of Mie’s mountainous hiking trails, for example, you might decide that you need to hire a car. Remember that you’ll need to obtain an International Driving Permit from your home country before arriving in Japan to be able to hire a car.
6 recommended areas to stay in Mie
Ise is the most famous city in Mie thanks to the Ise Grand Shrine. Founded around 2,000 years ago, Ise Grand Shrine is dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu and is the most sacred Shinto shrine in Japan. The shrine is based in two different locations, the Outer Shrine, in the center of the city, and the main Inner Shrine, a few kilometers to the southeast.
Close to the Inner Shrine is Okage Yokocho, a cluster of streets full of souvenir and local craft stalls as well as a number of regional restaurants. Oharai-machi, the kilometer-long approach to the Inner Shrine, is also lined with shops and restaurants that specialize in traditional souvenirs, snacks, and street foods.
Ise is also just a few stops by train from Mie’s most famous site, Meoto Iwa, or the Wedded Rocks. The two rocks are part of Futami Okitama Shrine, located just a few meters from the shore. The two rocks are said to represent two married Shinto gods. Connected by a straw rope, the picturesque Wedded Rocks symbolize marriage, and draws couples from all over Japan.
- Ise is perfect for those looking to explore Mie’s most famous landmarks, the Ise Shrine and the Wedded Rocks.
- Staying close to Ise’s Iseshi Station is also ideal for those looking to explore other coastal areas nearby, such as Toba or the Ise-Shima National Park further south along the coastline.
Tsu is the capital of Mie, located in the center of the prefecture on the coastline overlooking Ise Bay. There are a number of attractions to explore in the center of Tsu, including Oshiro Park, which includes the ruins and original moat of Tsu Castle. The original castle was built in the 16th century but mostly destroyed by fire in 1662. The grounds are now a beautiful park based around the footprint of the original castle. A replica of one of the castle’s original turrets was built in 1958.
Another of Tsu’s most famous landmarks is Tsukannon Temple, dedicated to Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Tsukannon Temple dates from the 8th century and amongst the temple’s buildings is a beautiful five story pagoda. Tsu is also a great base for visiting the Suzuka Circuit. If you’re visiting Mie to watch the Japanese Grand Prix or any of the many motorsports events held at the Suzuka Circuit, Tsu is just 40 minutes away from the track by train.
- This is a good location for those looking to explore Tsu as well as other areas of central Mie by train.
- Tsu is also a good place to stay for visiting Suzuka Circuit.
Yokkaichi is a port city in northeastern Mie, close to the border with Aichi Prefecture. You can explore the history of the city at the Yokkaichi Municipal Museum. The museum features realistic recreations of Yokkaichi’s streets during different eras of Japan’s history. Also part of the museum is a planetarium which projects over 140 million stars, a Guinness world record.
Elsewhere, there are impressive views to be seen from the Yokkaichi Port Building. The tallest building in Mie Prefecture, you can enjoy a sweeping panorama of the city and the harbor from the views from the observatory on the 14th floor. Yokkaichi is also a good place to stay as a base for exploring other parts of northern Mie. The roller coasters and rides at Nagashima Resort are less than an hour away by public transport. There is also easy access to the spa town of Yunoyama Onsen and the stunning views from the Gozaisho Ropeway from Yokkaicho.
- Yokkaichi is perfect for travelers looking to explore the highlights of northern Mie Prefecture, such as Yunoyama Onsen.
- Yokkaichi is also a good place to stay for those visiting Nagashima Spa Land, which is an hour away by train and bus.
Recommended Hotels in Yokkaichi
Sitting in the far south of Mie Prefecture, the small city of Kumano is the ideal place for those who love the great outdoors. Kumano is framed on one side by the Pacific Ocean, and the mountains and forests of the Yoshino-Kumano National Park on the other. The coastline is famous for its rock formations, shaped by centuries of erosion by the Pacific Ocean. A walking trail wraps around the giant protruding Onigajo rocks, while Shishi Iwa resembles a lion’s head.
Kumano is also famous for being a part of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. This ancient network of pilgrimage trails connected numerous sacred sites across the Kii Peninsula and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Iseji trail passes through Kumano from Wakayama Prefecture, leading all the way to Ise Grand Shrine. Many pilgrims still walk the trails of the Kumano Kodo today, which is broken up and completed over several days. If you’re planning to walk part of the historic trail, then Kumano is the perfect base.
- Kumano is a good spot for those who want to explore the area’s historic pilgrimage routes and hiking trails.
- This is also a good area for travelers looking to enjoy the coastline, or who wish to explore southern Mie by car.
Recommended Hotels in Kumano
Nagashima is home to the Nagashima Resort in the far north of Mie Prefecture. The Nagashima Resort is made up of a great number of attractions, most famous of all being Nagashima Spa Land, a huge amusement park that features several of Japan’s biggest roller coasters. There are numerous other attractions here, including a waterpark, a number of onsen, and a giant ferris wheel.
Alongside the amusements there is plenty of shopping to be had at the Mitsui Outlet Park, a huge mall with over 200 stores and more than 30 restaurants. Also nearby is Nabana no Sato, a large flower park that is famous for its huge variety of colorful flowers that bloom throughout the year. The park’s spectacular winter illuminations are always a big hit with visitors between October and May each year.
- This area is perfect for visitors traveling to Mie to enjoy the rides and delights of Nagashima Spa Land, as well as the flowers and illuminations of Nabana no Sato.
Recommended Hotels in Nagashima
6. Away from the ocean
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Mie that isn’t on the coastline, then your best options are near the cities of Iga or Nabari. Both cities are fairly centrally located in the far west of Mie.
Iga is most famous for its castle. Iga Ueno Castle is a reproduction of an Edo era that was originally built in the 16th century. The faithfully reconstructed castle was built in 1935 and stands in the center of the city.
Also highly recommended is the Iga Ninja Museum, which provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the life and times of the feudal warriors.
Meanwhile, Nabari City is a great base for exploring some of Mie’s breathtaking natural scenery, especially the Akame 48 Waterfalls. These waterfalls are located along a four-kilometer pathway deep in the beautiful forests of the Akame Valley.
- This area would mostly suit those who want to explore the beautiful nature and the history of rural Mie, ideally by car.
- This area would also be ideal for visitors looking for a peaceful and restorative break amongst beautiful scenery.
Recommended Hotels Elsewhere in Mie
How We Chose The Best Places to Stay in Mie
We set strict criteria when choosing the best places to stay in Mie. All of the recommended hotels in this article have an overall customer rating of over 7.5 on Booking.com, with the majority rated higher than 8. We also checked customer reviews and made sure that each accommodation offers all of the amenities you’d need for a comfortable stay. Each hotel was also chosen for its proximity to either transport links or the ease of access to the main sights within that area.
- Hotels: Hotels in Mie offer a range of amenities and services to cater to different traveler preferences, from luxurious resorts with stunning ocean views to budget-friendly options in convenient city locations. ▶ Browse hotels in Mie
- Business Hotels: Business hotels in Mie are designed to accommodate corporate travelers, providing compact but comfortable rooms and easy access to transportation hubs and commercial areas.
- Ryokan: Ryokan, traditional Japanese inns, offer an immersive cultural experience for visitors in Mie. Guests can enjoy tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and kaiseki meals, showcasing local cuisine and hospitality. ▶ Browse ryokan in Mie
- Vacation Homes: Vacation homes provide a more spacious and private accommodation option in Mie, suitable for families or groups. These homes come equipped with amenities such as kitchens and living areas, offering a home-away-from-home experience. ▶ Browse vacation homes in Mie
- Hostels: Hostels in Mie are popular among budget-conscious travelers and backpackers, offering affordable shared or private rooms. They often provide communal spaces where guests can socialize, making them ideal for those seeking a lively and social atmosphere. ▶ Browse hostels in Mie
Finding the Best Hotel For the Perfect Stay in Mie
Whether you’re visiting Mie to see the historic sights of Ise, the beautiful forests and mountains or for the thrill of Nagashima’s roller coasters, you’ll have no problem finding accommodation. With plenty of choice throughout the prefecture, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect place to stay in Mie.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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