Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) is a Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-Omikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. Officially known simply as Jingu, Ise Jingu is in fact a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naiku and Geku.
The Inner Shrine, Naiku (also officially known as "Kotai Jingu"), is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise City, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu-Omikami. The Outer Shrine, Geku (also officially known as "Toyouke Daijingu"), is located about six kilometers from Naiku and dedicated to Toyouke-no Omikami, the deity of agriculture and industry. Besides Naiku and Geku, there are an additional 123 Shinto shrines in Ise City and the surrounding areas, 91 of them connected to Naiku and 32 to Geku.
Purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is arguably one of Shinto's holiest and most important sites. Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the common public allowed to see little more than the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. The high priest or priestess of Ise Jingu Shrine must come from the Japanese imperial family, and is responsible for watching over the Shrine.
The two main shrines of Ise are joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi. The region around the shrines consists of the Ise-Shima National Park and numerous other holy and historic sites including the 'wedded rocks' Meoto Iwa, and the Saiku (the site of the Heian-era imperial residence).
The shrine buildings at Naiku and Geku, as well as the Uji Bridge, are rebuilt every 20 years as a part of the Shinto belief of the death and renewal of nature and the impermanence of all things — wabi-sabi — and as a way of passing building techniques from one generation to the next. The rebuilding of the main shrine takes place on an adjacent site next to the old, and each rebuilding alternates between the two sites. The next scheduled rebuilding of Naiku is due in 2013 on the lower, northern site.
In the lead-up to the rebuilding of the shrines, a number of festivals are held to mark special events. The Okihiki Festival is held in the spring over two consecutive years and involves people from surrounding towns dragging huge wooden logs through the streets of Ise to Naiku and Geku. In the lead-up to the 2013 rebuilding, the Okihiki festival was held in 2006 and 2007. A year after the completion of the Okihiki festival, carpenters begin preparing the wood for its eventual use in the Shrine.