Press Tour (No.084)

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 Foreign Correspondents’ Press Tour

Organized by The Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion

Cooperated by Mie Pref. and Iga City 

March 7(Fri.)-8(Sat.), 2014

 

"Actually it is all from Mie!"

 

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   With the spiritual home of the Japanese, “Ise Jingu”, landmarks and tourist attractions like “Kumano Kodo” pilgrimage routes connecting the Sacred Sites in the Kii Mountain Range, famous delicacies including “Matsusaka beef” and “spiny lobster” known as "Ise Ebi", and “Ninja,” "Ama" or female diver, and “Pearl”; Mie Prefecture has many appealing resources for tourism that can be promoted around the world, and the Foundation has provided opportunities for foreign correspondents to cover those resources in the past press tours.

 

   With 2013 being the year of the "Shikinen-sengu" of Ise Jingu, a tradition continuing for 1300 years, 2014 being the “Okage” Year, the following year of Shikinen-sengu, when people can expect more divine favor, and also with 2014 marking the tenth anniversary of the registration of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range as UNESCO World Heritage, Mie Prefecture is receiving much attention from within Japan and abroad. Seeing this as the perfect timing, Mie Prefecture has started a campaign to further promote Mie Prefecture and its brands with the slogan “Actually it is all from Mie!”

   In this press tour, Mie Governor Eikei Suzuki will introduce fascinating Mie and there will be interviews covering the Shikinen-sengu of Ise Jingu. Also the tour will cover ninjas, spies of the Warring States Period. 

 

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■ Governor Eikei Suzuki discusses Mie’s appeal “Actually it is all from Mie!”

 

 

 

 

■Reborn once every 20 years, the “ancient yet new” sacred Ise Jingu

          A rare view that can only be seen “now” -old and new sanctuaries standing side by side

 

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-“The Shikinen-sengu”, the most important Shinto ceremony continuing for 1300 years

 

- Okage-yokocho, a popular spot fronting the pilgrimage route

 

 

       

  *Regarding Ise-jingu visit, please read "Important Notice" carefully in "Highlights of the tour".

 

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Iga city, home of the Iga sect of “NINJA”, the mysterious existence

 

- Mayor Sakae Okamoto, a former TV anchorman, introduces the attractions of Iga

- Jin-ichi Kawakami, The last Ninja alive today talks of the real Ninja!

 

- Town revitalization through Ninja; Ninja Train, Ninja Show, Ninja Circle, Ninja Menu

 

 

 

 

★Please refer to the "Highlights of the tour" for the details of each press activity.

 

Tour Date Mar 7(Fri) - Mar 8(Sat),2014
Qualification Bearer of Press Registration Card issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Tour Fee Please refer to the attached application form
Organized by

The Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion

Osaka Nakanoshima Building 7F, 2-2-2 Nakanoshima Kitaku, Osaka City 
Zip:530-0005
TEL:06-6223-7202

Cooperated by Mie Prefecture, Iga City
Capacity 12 reporters (1 reporter from each company, 2 for a TV company - 2 TV companies max for this tour)
Closing date/time for Application Feb 13(Thu),2014 04:00 PM
■The Foundation for Kansai Region Promotion, in cooperation with local municipalities, organizes this press tour with a goal of disseminating information from Kansai directly to the world through the participants' articles based on press activities during the tour. Participant will be asked for their understanding and cooperation.

■Applications will be accepted on this page by the time of the above-mentioned deadline, but please note that if the number of applicants has reached the prescribed number before your application, your name will be put on a waiting list for cancellation.

■The Foundation may set an upper limit on the number of participants from each country/region and may decide participants in view of their past records based on the press tours if the reporters joined in the past, when it receives oversubscribed applications.

■The Foundation shall bear no responsibility whatsoever for any accidents or inconveniences that may arise during a press tour. The itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions or other circumstances.

The Highlights of the Tour

■Governor Eikei Suzuki Discusses Mie’s Appeal “Actually it is all from Mie!”

 

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 Mie Prefecture has many appealing resources for tourism that can be promoted around the world, including landmarks and tourist attractions like “Ise Jingu”, “Kumano Kodo” pilgrimage routes connecting the Sacred Sites in the Kii Mountain Range, famous delicacies like “Matsusaka beef” and “spiny lobster”, and “Ninja,” “Ama" or female diver, and “Pearl”, etc. With 2013 being the year of the Shikinen-sengu of Ise Jingu, 2014 being the “Okage” Year, the following year of Shikinen-sengu, when people can expect more divine favor, and also with 2014 marking the tenth anniversary of the registration of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range as UNESCO World Heritage, Mie Prefecture is receiving much attention from within Japan and abroad. Seeing this as the perfect timing, Mie Prefecture has started a  campaign to further promote Mie Prefecture and its brands with the slogan “Actually it is all from Mie!”

 

 In this press tour, Governor Eikei Suzuki will greet the correspondents at Ise Jingu and introduce the attractions and appeal of Mie Prefecture. In addition, efforts towards the realization of the “Happiest Prefecture in Japan,” strongly promoted by Governor Suzuki, Mie Prefecture’s active interaction and cooperation with Taiwan government, and the layout of its industrial collaboration with foreign countries/regions will be introduced.

 

 

■Reborn once every twenty years, the “ancient yet new” sacred Ise Jingu

“The Shikinen-sengu”, the most important Shinto ceremony continuing for 1300 years

A rare view that can only be seen “now” -old and new sanctuaries standing side by side

*Please read carefully "Important notice" below.

 

 The Ise Jingu whose official name is “Jingu” is the collective name for Kotaijingu (Naiku) and Toyoukedaijingu (Geku), and includes 14 Betsugu (associated shrines) and 109 Sessha (auxiliary shrines), Massha (subordinate shrines) and Shokansha (local shrines). The Naiku is dedicated to “Amaterasu Omikami”, Sun Goddess, who gives birth to all living things and the Geku is dedicated to “Toyouke Omikami”, the god of agriculture and industry, who offers food to “Amaterasu Omikami”. The history of the Naiku can be traced back roughly 2000 years and Geku back 1500 years. The traditional style of the shrine has been protected while there is a continually renewed shrine.

 

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 The basis for this “ancient yet new” view is the Shinto idea of “Tokowaka,” being forever young. This is said to be always young and fresh, in an energetic state without aging. At the Ise Jingu, every 20 years the shrines and Onshozoku-shimpo (sacred apparel and treasures) are renewed. The kami or Shinto deity is transferred to the new shrine and the ceremony praying for the everlasting energy to continue is held. Through this, the Ise Jingu continually maintains its young and energetic appearance.

 The significance of the renewal is not limited to the keeping the new and fresh appearance. With every renewal, the shrines, sacred apparels and treasures as many as over 1500 items including swards and mirrors are replaced with newly made ones. Within each of these exist ancient culture and the heart of the Japanese and with the new production every 20 years, the traditional architectural skills and the spirit of craftsmanship as well as the heart of the Japanese are passed on to the future.

 

 In 2013 the 62nd Shikinen-sengu was held at the shrine. From its first time in 690, excluding unlawful times of the medieval era, the Shikinen-sengu has continued for more than 1300 years, being one of the most important Shinto ceremonies. The preparation began with the cutting of materials 8 years ago, and came to a climax with the “Sengyo-no-Gi” to transfer the enshrined object from the old to the newly constructed building in last October.

 

 This press tour will visit the shrine. In the beginning of this tour there will be a brief explanation of the shrine and the Shikinen-sengu at Sengukan, a museum built to commemorate the 62nd Shikinen-sengu, and the tour will visit the sanctuaries of the Naiku and Geku, being guided by shrine officials. Tour participants will see both old and new sanctuaries standing side by side, a rare view that can only be seen “now”, as the old shrine buildings will be disassembled at the end of March. Please look carefully through information below before application.

 

[Important notice]

With regard to Ise Jingu visit, we ask for your cooperation in observing some basic regulations and guidelines. Please look carefully through information below.

 

*This tour visits Sengukan museum and sanctuaries of Naiku and Geku. There are some restrictions on photographing/filming at these sites. Please follow the instructions of the staff on duty. Also as these sites are expected to be crowded with worshippers, please refrain from using tripods, photographing/filming while walking and outside designated area. Regarding TV shooting at Sengukan museum, only “HANDY-SIZED” camera is allowed to use.

 

*At Geku, participants are specially allowed to enter “Mikakiuchi”, the area near sanctuaries, and see the old sanctuaries at close range. Participants are requested to be dressed formally (dark-colored suit and tie for men). Within “Mikakiuchi” photographing/filming are strictly prohibited.

 

*At Naiku, participants will walk from Ujibashi Bridge to sanctuaries (about 30 min. there and back). There are some restrictions on photographing/filming and entry to “Mikakiuchi” is not planned at Naiku.

 

 

 

■The Prosperous Sengu Year ~ Okage Year - Okage-yokocho, a popular spot fronting the pilgrimage route

 

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 In 2013, the year of the Shikinen-sengu, Ise City expected 10 million shrine visitors, but upwardly corrected this number to 13 million at the end of September. This number is the highest since the shrine statistics were first taken in 1896. Considering there were 8.38 million visitors in 1993, when the last Shikinen-sengu was held, the sudden growth in visitors is quite clear. The old pilgrimage road area known as “Oharai-machi” and the “Okage-yokocho” (*1) area in it are also seeing a large increase in the number of visitors. The tour will visit “Okage-yokocho” to observe the area surrounding the shrine that is also lively with Shikinen-sengu.

 

(*1)”Akafuku”, a store operating for about 300 years in the area in front of the shrine, built this area in 1993. The “Okage” name means Akafuku owes its long success to Ise Jingu and also comes from the “Okage” pilgrimage to the shrine popular in the Edo Period. The area includes reconstructions and reproductions of representative buildings from the end of the Edo Period to the beginning of the Meiji Period (from late 19th to early 20th century).

 

 

 

Iga city, home of the Iga sect of “NINJA”, the mysterious existence

 -Mayor Sakae Okamoto, a former TV anchorman, introduces the attractions of Iga

 -Town revitalization through Ninja; Ninja Train, Ninja Show, Ninja Circle, Ninja Menu

 

  伊賀市PR用クリップ.png Iga city is located in the northwest part of Mie Pref. and is next to Kyoto, Nara, and Shiga Prefecture. Seen from wide-area perspective, it is located between two big city areas, Osaka and Nagoya, and is within 60 km from Osaka and within 80 km from Nagoya, within 1.5 hours from both areas. In the city center, it has the Iga School Ninja Museum with reference library that holds and displays the world’s largest collections of Ninja materials and Ninja residence, appropriate for the home of the Iga sect of Ninja, and birthplace of Matsuo Basho, the master of haiku or Japanese seventeen-syllable poem, and Basho Memorial Museum that displays his genuine writings and related references and other popular tourists spots. Also, Iga is called “little Kyoto” as the castle-town-zoning established in the Edo Period (1603-1868) did not suffer damages from the war and the old townscape has been retained. This tour will meet the mayor of Iga City, Sakae Okamoto (photo), a former TV anchorman, who is very active in transmitting attractive information from Iga. Also it will be introduced some Ninja-related topics of town revitalization such as Ninja Train of Iga Railway (photo), Ninja show, Ninja circle(photo), Ninja menu (*1)(photo).

 

(*1)A local restaurant “Fuji-issui”, whose ancestor is Yasutake Fujibayashi, the author of a mysterious Ninja art writing known as “Bansenshukai” serves Ninja menu arranged in contemporary style. This tour visits the restaurant for lunch and news-gathering.

 

 

 

Jinichi Kawakami, the last Ninja alive today talks of the real Ninja!

 

 

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  Ninja is the name of the individuals or groups that were under command of feudal/land lords performing intelligence activities, sabotage, and assassinations from the Kamakura (1185-1333) to the Edo Period (1603-1868). From their name which means “those hidden,” it is thought that they were skilled in hiding themselves from people’s perception. Ninjas are thought to have undertaken the roles of modern day CIA or MI6 intelligence agents, therefore it is understandable that their existence and the range of their activities are wrapped in mystery and unclear. However, the name “NINJA” is well known throughout the world.

 

 

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  It is said that there were 49 Ninja schools throughout Japan, but the most famous schools of Ninja were the “Iga School” of Iga City, Mie Prefecture, and the “Koka School” of Koka City, Shiga Prefecture. These two schools were closely located, being on opposite sides of a mountain and it is said that they had a cooperative relationship.

 

 As was stated before, Ninjas’ activities themselves were not performed in the open, but in the shadows, with no record nor names existing. This is the true essence of the Ninja, but during the Warring State Period (1493-1590), when they are thought to have been actively involved behind the scenes in history, with Iga and Koka being strategically located between the capital (Kyoto) and the native land (Present Aichi Pref.) of the feudal warlords (Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu), the skilled Iga and Koka Ninjas were valued as knowledgeable mercenaries. Thus the existence and activities are said to have attracted much attention.

  This tour visits the Iga School Ninja Museum which has the reference library and Ninja residence that contains traps and tricks such as hidden doors, trap doors and secret passages(photo).

 

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  Also, the tour will meet with Jin-ichi Kawakami (64)(photo), the honorary director of the museum and the successor of the Koka School, and hear about the real Ninja. He started his Ninja studies when he was 6, under a teacher with roots in Koka, and got his certificate at 18 after studying things like martial arts and explosives. He is the 21st head of the Koka School of Ninja. Mr. Kawakami has decided he will not take in students, so there will be no 22nd head. This is why he is called the “last Ninja.” He has researched literature and other materials concerning the information that was mostly verbally transferred, and has written much on the areas including Ninja history, reality, and skills, in order to send out the correct version of the Ninja. From 2012 he has been a Specially Appointed Professor researching Ninjas at Mie University.

  

 

Itinerary

Mar 7(Fri)

10:20
Start of Tour at Kintetsu Uji-yamada Station

10:30-11:00
Lunch

11:30-12:20
Okage Yokocho

12:45-13:25
Ise-jingu Shrine –Sengu Museum

13:30-14:20
PR of Mie by Governor Eikei Suzuki and Interview

14:30-15:30
Ise-jingu Shrine –Outer Shrine

16:00-17:00
Ise-jingu Shrine -Inner Shrine

19:00
Hotel

Mar 8(Sat)

7:45 Meet in the hotel lobby

9:11-9:40
Ninja Train

10:00-10:45
PR of Iga by Mayor Sakae Okamoto and Interview

11:15-12:45
Ninja Museum, Ninja Residence, Ninja Show etc

13:30-15:00
Lunch (Ninja Menu)

15:30-16:30
Interview with “Last Ninja”, Mr. Jinichi Kawakami

16:45-17:30
Town revitalization through Ninja - Ninja Circle

18:30
End of Tour at Kintetsu Iga-kanbe Station