AMA Culture

Nicholas Dahl

Toba isn’t a massive bustling metropolis like the relatively close Osaka or Nagoya. It doesn’t boast one of the most famous shrines in Japan like the nearby city of Ise. Toba is a delightful town with its own rich and interesting history. I’m happy to live here, and even happier to share a bit about Toba with you!
While there are none as large or well-known as the Ise Grand Shrine in the neighboring city Ise, Toba has plenty of its own shrines and temples. A popular shrine in Toba is the Shinmei Shrine


IThere are actually three separate shrines here, each devoted to a different god! The first and most popular is the Ishigami Shrine (Ishi means Stone, Gami means god). Originally this shrine was only used by the Japanese Ama Divers, women who dive for shells and seaweeds. As the shrine became more popular, more women came to visit as well. Eventually the shrine was opened up for all women, but still women only! It’s said that a single wish will be granted to women who pray here ? it’s OK, guy prays for his girl!

The shrine itself

The shrine itself

Women whose wishes have been granted giving thanks!

Women whose wishes have been granted giving thanks!

The other two shrines are for Amaterasu and The God in the Woods. While not as popular as the Ishigami Shrine, they are nonetheless very beautiful and worth a look!


God in the Woods Shrine


Amaterasu Shrine

Located right near these shrines is the convienently placed Ama Cultural Museum! The Osatsu area where the Ama Cultural Museum and Shinmei Shrine are located has 117 Amas, the most in Toba. You might be thinking now what is an Ama? Well, hopefully this picture answers that question!


Ama are female divers who, since ancient Japan, have dived into the ocean to bring back food, fishs and seaweeds, and other treasures from the ocean. Toba is very well known for Ama ? about 1000 Amas living in Ise-shima area! At the Ama Cultural Museum you can learn more about the history and difficult job these amazing women do. If that isn’t enough for you, you can make an appointment to eat lunch with an active Ama! Eaten inside an Ama’s Cottage (Kamado), freshly caught seafood is cooked right in front of you for a fascinating and delicious experience.


Freshly prepared!


Look at that bounty!


I can’t recommend this experience enough! There are two cottages, one in Maenohama (前の浜) ,in front of fish auction and the other in Kujirazaki (鯨崎),it called Ozego-san.
After you’re done eating, what better way to enjoy a full meal than with some amazing sights? Toba has plenty of amazing viewpoints all a short drive away. Whether it’s a relaxing stop at the beach or a birds eye view from one of the highest places in Toba, there are plenty of relaxing places to digest that delicious food you just ate!


Chidori Beach


Toba Tenbodai

Toba is a charming town that has more than meets the eye. It’s more than just a simple fishing town next to the ocean ? it’s a beautiful and historical town with its own unique history and culture. It’s a wonderful place to slow down and relax for a bit. The calming waters and leisurely atmosphere will quiet and relax the soul of any weary traveler.