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Ise-Shima National Park , Japan
Ise-Shima National Park is one of the stops along the Unesco World Heritage-recognised Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes connecting places of worship across south-west Japan. Ise Grand Shrine is considered to be Japan’s holiest, and traditional celebrations, such as the Kinensai harvest festival and the Kannamesai weather ceremony are held here. Expect an abundance of tasty sea fare: Ise-Shima specialises in fat oysters, Matsusaka wagyu beef, and flavourful lobster and abalone. Head coastwards to catch a glimpse of Japan's original mermaids: the incredible Ama (women of the sea) free-divers, whose impressive lung capacity allows them to collect pearls and sea urchins from the beds of the island-scattered bays.
When to go
Visit from late March to early April when clouds of pink sakura (cherry blossoms) are in bloom. Summer months June to August are rainy and humid, and cooler temperatures in autumn give way to dry, usually sunny winters.
PlanesThe nearest airport is Chūbu Centrair International, around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Ise-Shima. There are direct flights from major cities (including Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing) throughout Japan and Asia with Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. From London, British Airways, Emirates and Delta fly to Tokyo, from there connecting flights to Nagoya, north-west of Ise-Shima National Park, arrive in just over an hour.
TrainsThere are frequent train services from Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka to Kashikojima Station in Shima, which is around a 50-minute drive to the park.
AutomobilesIse-Shima National Park is around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Chūbu Centrair International.