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Ise (ēˈsā) [key], city (1990 pop. 104,164), Mie prefecture, S Honshu, Japan, on Ise Bay. It is one of the foremost religious centers of Shinto, the site of the shrines of Ise. These three shrines, set deep in a forest, are said to have been built in 4 B.C. They exhibit an archaic style of architecture, completely without Chinese or Buddhist influence; until 1868 Buddhist priests and nuns were forbidden to enter the shrines. The Naigu, or Inner Shrine, is dedicated to Amaterasu-o-mikami, the "divine ancestress" of the imperial family, and still houses the Sacred Mirror, one of the three treasures that comprise the imperial regalia. Ise has a university and several museums of antiquities. Pilgrimages to the shrines support a steady tourism industry. It was called Uji-yamada until 1955.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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