‘Inaka’ is the Japanese word for countryside. My patch of ‘inaka’ in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, is typical of many rural areas in Japan. It consists of a narrow coastal plain dominated by mountains that rise straight up over it. Mie Prefecture qualifies as a forgotten corner of Japan even though it’s located just east of Osaka, southeast of Kyoto and south of Nagoya. Simply put, it’s a place few have heard of that’s squarely in the middle of Honshu, Japan’s main island.
- Mie is 170km long, 80km wide, with 1095.9km of coastline
- Population – almost 1.9 million
- Land usage – 64.8% forest, 6% residential, 3.8% roads (as of 2000)
Mie Prefecture’s claims to fame:
- Ise Shrine (伊瀬神社宮), Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine.
- Suzuka Circuit (鈴鹿サーキト), home to The Japan F1 Grand Prix.
- Ninja (忍者), said to have originated in Iga, Mie.
- Matsusaka Beef (松阪牛), one of Japan’s top three beef ‘brands’. The other two are Kobe Beef and Hida Takayama Beef.
- The Kumono-Kodo (熊野古道), a World Heritage listed area.
- Sakakibara Onsen (榊原温泉), reputedly the third best hot spring resort in Japan.
- Mikimoto Pearls, the first ever cultivated pearls.
(*Only Sakakibara Onsen, is in Tsu.)