Cultivated Pearls

Koichi Mikimoto became the first person in the world to produce a cultured pearl in 1893 after long years of experiments that were ridden with public skepticism. It was not until 1905 when he finally succeeded in producing a perfectly round pearl that propelled him to international fame and impressed huge figures including Thomas Edison and the Meiji Emperor. Nonetheless, credit goes to the traditional female divers as well because pearl cultivation would be impossible if they had not dived and planted a pearl nucleus into the Akoya oysters. Despite his success, Mikimoto continued to work hard and sell them worldwide so that pearls could be worn by more women

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Bay Cruises

If you are hankering for a cruise experience unlike any other, the grand pirate cruise “Esperanza” modeled after a Spanish galleon, promises to offer a relaxing and elegant sightseeing tour around Ago Bay in the southern part of Shima Peninsula. Ranging from 50 minutes to an hour, the cruise tour begins from Kashikojima Port and makes a stop at a pearl factory before returning to the port. The Toba Bay Cruise departs from Toba Marine Terminal and stops at sightseeing spots including Dolphin Island, Mikimoto Pearl Island and Toba Aquarium. Alternatively, catch the picturesque island views of Sakatejima, Sugashima, Toushijima and Kamishima on board longer cruises that ply the waters

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Local Gourmet

From Ise udon to fresh fish cuisine, it is not easy to find delicious cuisine with a local taste along the streets. Most of them are small-scale family eateries managed by chef-owners who take pride in serving affordable quality food. Diners are guaranteed freshness as ingredients are sourced from local markets. Don’t be shy to start a conversation with the locals at the next tables or toast a cup of sake or two.

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Japanese Sweets

To satisfy your tingling sweet tooth, check out the all-time favorite cheesecake from Toba International Hotel that has been made with the same old recipe 30 years ago. It comes in a variety of flavors, including one that is blended with Ise green tea. Handmade tokoroten, a light translucent jelly sprinkled with kinako can be found at a unique café called “Ama no Ie”, which is rebuilt from the traditional houses of ama divers. The local Toba version is characterized by its cubic shapes and the texture is similar to warabimochi (bracken jelly). For those health conscious, try the soft-serve ice cream or donuts that are made with tofu while

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Mochi – Rice Cakes

In Ise, one may have noticed a vibrant “mochi culture” as the shopping street leading to the Grand Shrine of Ise is lined with many traditional Japanese sweets shops. In fact, Ise is often associated with “mochi” as the congregation of shrines in the area implied that rice, the main ingredient of mochi, could be obtained freely from feudal domains during the Tokugawa period. Since then, various types of mochi are prepared and sold as a light snack for people who visit the shrine.

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Vegetarian

While Mie Prefecture is renowned for the seafood, vegetarians can have their fill at local restaurants that offer plenty of vegetarian options. They are usually painstakingly prepared with local vegetable produce by experienced chefs. From salads, main courses to desserts, these delicious dishes are guaranteed to satisfy even the strictest vegetarians.

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Fugu – Puffer Fish

With plenty of tiger puffer fish swimming in the waters around Anori fishing port in Shima, those that are caught and loaded on the port are known as the famous Anori fugu. Weighing at least 700 grams, the natural fugu are usually caught in early wee hours during the chilly winter season. The fish boasts excellent quality and delicate texture, making it an all-time treasured delicacy of Japanese cuisine.

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Tekone Sushi

The local cuisine is said to be originated as a food for fishermen, who prepare the sushi with soy sauce flavored vinegar rice, bonito fish, herbs, and mix them by hand. Nowadays Tekone Sushi can be found in many local restaurants.

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Ise Udon

Distinguished by its thick handmade noodles in black broth, Ise udon was said to be originally prepared as an easily digestible dish for worshippers who travel long distances to the Grand Shrine of Ise. The black soup is made with rich concentrated black soy sauce and Japanese cooking sake. To enjoy this simple goodness, toss in the chopped spring onions and mix well with a dash of red pepper.

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Abalone

Also known as king of the sea, abalones are offered in dried form as one of the sacred delicacies to the deities at the Grand Shrine of Ise. Abalones have been always considered the prize catch of Ama, traditional female divers who are responsible for the region’s main supply of seafood products as they dive daily into the waters with simply a basket and a weighted belt. Abalones are most abundantly available from May to September in this region.

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