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Toba City: A deep dive into Mie's coastal city

Toba City: A deep dive into Mie's coastal city

Well-known for housing one of Japan’s most important shrines, Ise Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū), Mie Prefecture (三重県 Mie-ken) is a mysterious prefecture to the south of Nagoya (名古屋市 Nagoya-shi). Ise Grand Shrine was where the Japanese people of the Edo period would make trips from all over Japan to receive blessings from.

 

The best place to get your souvenirs at Ise Grand Shrine, Okage Yokocho. (Image credit: BONGURI / CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

However, there is a lot more to Mie than just Ise Grand Shrine, Ise lobsters, and Matsuzaka Beef. Let’s go beyond the surface and dive deeper into the coastal city of Toba (鳥羽市 Toba-shi), where the divers are all ladies, and where they not only dive for seafood, but pearls too!

 

1. Toshijima

On a boat ride around the islands. (Image credit: z tanuki / CC BY 3.0)

 

One of the nearest islands, Toshijima (答志島), where everyone is a fisher, is a great place to walk around and explore the “quieter” parts of Japan. Here, you can enjoy the freshest catch of fish and other seafood right out of the fishing boats at the island’s various restaurants. At less than ¥600 per ride, getting here isn’t going to break the bank either. You can even book tours where a local guide will show you around the island and its various unique experiences too!

 

TOBA Marine Terminal (鳥羽マリンターミナル)
Address: 1-2383-51 Toba, Toba-shi, Mie 517-0011
Nearest station: Toba Station (鳥羽駅)
Opening hours (ferry ride): 7am–7pm (Refer to timetable)
Admission fee (ferry ride): ¥550 (to Toshijima) (Prices vary according to destination, check timetable above for prices)
Tel: +81-599-25-4800 (TOBA Marine Terminal), +81-599-37-3339 (Toshijima Island Tour)

 

2. Toba Aquarium

Find any kinds of fish here. (Image credit: Norio.NAKAYAMA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

 

Located just a short 10-minute walk from Toba Station (鳥羽駅 Toba-eki), this aquarium has one of the largest collections of marine animals in Japan. Unlike the usual aquariums that have only one route to explore, this aquarium splits their exhibits into 12 zones and visitors can freely explore them in any order. This aquarium also houses the one and only dugong in Japan.

 

Please visit the only dugong in Japan... Don’t let him be a lonely dude-gong. (Image credit: nyanchew / CC BY 2.0)

 

Since we are unable to visit them yet due to COVID-19, let’s instead check out their cute little swimming pals on their YouTube account!

 

Toba Aquarium (鳥羽水族館)
Address: 3-3-6 Toba, Toba-shi, Mie 517-8517
Nearest station: Toba Station (鳥羽駅)
Opening hours: 9am–5pm
Admission fee: ¥2,500 (Free for ages 3 and below)
Tel: +81-599-25-2555

 

3. Mikimoto Pearl Island

A whole island with lots of places to explore too! (Image credit: Joel Abroad / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

Having the whole island to themselves, this is where you can get some of the world-famous MIKIMOTO accessories right from the source. Here, you can also learn about pearls and the way they are processed in the museum. They also have regularly scheduled shows where you can watch the ladies dive for pearls. The diving shows’ schedule can be found here.

 

From farm to table, these pearls are as fresh as you can get. (Image credit: Shenghung Lin/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

The island also has a shrine, a huge garden, as well as a cafe too! This is a great way to spend half a day for less than $20. Check out the map of the island.

 

Mikimoto Pearl Island (ミキモト真珠島)
Address: 1-7-1 Toba, Toba-shi, Mie 517-8511
Nearest station: Toba Station (鳥羽駅)
Opening hours: 9am–4:30pm
Admission fee: ¥1,650 (Adult), ¥820 (Child)
Tel: +81-599-25-2028

 

4. Ama Hut Hachiman Kamado

A whole spread of shellfish just for you. (Image credit: macbsd / CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

Toba boasts the highest number of Ama (海女), also known as lady divers, in all of Japan. Here at Ama Hut Hachiman Kamado (海女小屋の『はちまんかまど』Amagoya no “hachiman ka mado”), you can sit in a traditional Ama hut while enjoying the day’s fresh catch all handpicked from the sea and grilled right in front of you. Depending on the day, you can expect to enjoy shellfish like scallops, sea urchin, and even local specialties like abalone and Ise lobster.

 

If the hut and atmosphere by the seaside is not enough, ladies can also dress up and be like an Ama here too!  

 

While it might seem to be quite a distance from Toba City, they provide a free shuttle bus service for guests who are heading to dine at Ama Hut Hachiman Kamado. The bus conveniently departs from Toba Station and brings you back too. All you have to do is state your preferred bus timings on the reservation form.

 

Ama Hut "Hachiman Kamado" (海女小屋の『はちまんかまど』)
Address: 819 Osatsucho, Toba-shi, Mie 517-0032
Nearest station: Toba Station (鳥羽駅)
Opening hours: 10am–4:30pm (Restaurant hours depend on season)here
AMA Bus: Check schedule of bus here
Admission fee (Meal plans): ¥2,000 and above (Check out meal plans and reserve here before going)
Admission fee (Ama Cosplay):¥300 (Free for ages 13 and below)Tel: +81-599-33-1023

 

Whether you’re making a pilgrimage to one of Japan’s most important shrines or simply taking a short trip from Nagoya, Toba is a great place to include in your itinerary. 

 

If you are taking public transport here, there is a JR Pass that includes perks like unlimited free bus rides within Ise and Toba too! For more information or questions on which JR Pass suits your travel plans, feel free to contact us via jtbjrcafe.sg@jtbap.com.



Header image credit: marlins / CC BY-NC 2.0

 

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