Discover the Secret Power Spots Around Ise Jingu with a Rickshaw Ride

Discover the Secret Power Spots Around Ise Jingu with a Rickshaw Ride

One of the best ways to get off the beaten track and learn more about the places that you visit in Japan is to take a rickshaw ride. I was lucky during my recent visit to Ise Jingu to experience this first-hand with a ride around the sacred shrine complex. Not only was it fun, but informative as well, as I could visit hidden spots that are not included in any travel guidebook. Join me as I share some of the secret power spots located around Ise Jingu, known as “The Soul of Japan.”

Written by John Asano

-Table of Contents-

・Traveling in Style with a Rickshaw 

・Interesting Points of Interest  

・Hidden Mountain Shrines 

・Power Spots and Nature  

・Oharaimachi Shopping Street 

・Rickshaw Mitsuseya 


・How to Get There 

・Wrap Up 

Traveling in Style with a Rickshaw

The word rickshaw comes from the Japanese jinrikisha, which means human-powered carriage. This light, two-wheeled cart with a fold-down top is surprisingly comfortable and fast. It was widely used as a means of transport during the Meiji era (1868-1912) before the arrival of motorized vehicles to Japan. For decades, rickshaws were Japan’s main mode of transportation, used by commoners not just nobility.  

My chariot for the day in front of Ise Jingu Naiku 
The ride with the friendly guide was a unique experience I highly recommend. The rickshaw driver introduced himself as Ryu (竜) which means dragon in Japanese. Ryu was able to speak English and was extremely outgoing.  

Ryu the rickshaw driver 
The rickshaw I rode can fit up to two passengers in style. A small step stool allows you to enter the carriage ready to be whisked away. I was surprised at how strong Ryu’s legs looked. He must travel many miles taking tourists around the area as the chief rickshaw driver.  

About to leave Ise Jingu Naiku
The driver, called shafu in Japanese, doubles as your tour guide and photographer by explaining about the attractions you pass in humorous and informative ways using their knowledge as a local. They will also stop for photo ops, taking you to good photo spots that most people just don’t know about. You can have your picture taken in the rickshaw with the surroundings and places of interest in the background. 

Ryu is quick to take a photo at every chance 

Interesting Points of Interest

One of the first things that struck me as we took off on our rickshaw adventure was how smooth and comfortable the ride was. The ride will take visitors away from the main tourist area of Ise Jingu to the secret power spots only known to those in the know. Among the interesting spots we passed was a deserted shrine just around the corner from the main car park of Ise Jingu Naiku, and a power spot full of cool refreshing air and healing power.  

In front of the torii shrine gate of Ise Jingu Naiku  

Leaving Ise Jingu Naiku for our adventure

Hidden Mountain Shrines

One of the benefits of taking a rickshaw ride is the expert local knowledge of the driver who will stop and point out places of interest. Our first stop was a shrine without a visitor in sight. Uji Jinja Shrine is a small Shinto shrine located off a small road without a lot of traffic along the Isuzugawa River. Compared to the hustle and bustle of Ise Jingu Naiku, few people visit this shrine, so I had it all to myself. It is also called “Ashigami Shrine” and is said to be worshiped by athletes because of its healing powers. Mizuki Noguchi, a native of Ise, visited the shrine before the Athens Olympics in 2004 and won the gold medal in the women’s marathon.  

Ryu explaining all about the shrine

The stairs leading up to Uji Jinja Shrine

Power Spots and Nature

Escape into nature with pink cherry blossoms in spring, vivid green colors in summer, and fiery fall foliage in autumn. Surprisingly, the rickshaw ride in summer was quite cool with the breeze proving to be natural air conditioning. The ride is also warm in winter, so there is no need to put the top down unless it’s raining. We headed out from Uji Jinja Shrine into a quiet forested area full of trees, pure forest air, and singing birds. It was the perfect spot to soak up the forest’s healing power and recharge after a morning walking around Ise Jingu.  

The fresh green of early summer 
The return journey to Ise Jingu along the tranquil Isuzugawa River was a blast. Ryu told us to hang on as he picked up some speed on the downhill road. This section of road makes this rickshaw ride the fastest in Japan.  

Enjoying the downhill ride back to Ise Jingu 

Oharaimachi Shopping Street

A fun ride along the 800-meter-long stone path from the torii shrine gate of Ise Jingu Naiku all the way to Okage Yokocho passing traditional wooden buildings housing old confectionery shops and souvenir stores. Here, visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of this historic street as well as indulge in some of its tasty treats right from the comfort of their rickshaws 

About to enter Oharaimachi Shopping Street 

Enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of Oharaimachi 

Another thing I noticed was how polite everyone was toward us and the driver of the rickshaw. People were kindly moving out of the way and complimenting us on how cool we looked in the rickshaw. It was an experience I really enjoyed, making me feel like a rock star.  

As we passed the famous Starbucks in Oharaimachi, which is set in a traditional old wooden building, we stopped, and Ryu pointed out the mermaid on top of the building. Yes, that’s the Starbucks Siren on all the cups, I thought to myself. This is something I had missed earlier when walking around this area. The high ride of the rickshaw provides excellent views of Oharaimachi – spotting things you miss from walking on the road. 

The Starbucks in Oharaimachi 

Close-up of the Starbucks Siren 

Tourist attractions covered by this article