Facing Ise Bay, the center of Mie Prefecture. Hot springs perfect for daytrips and a unique gastronomic culture as well.
The city of Tsu is the seat of the Mie prefectural government. Located near the center of the Japanese Islands, it faces Ise Bay. It belongs to the economic spheres of both Nagoya and Osaka, and during the Edo Period, it flourished as a post station town for pilgrimages known as “O-Ise-mairi,” remnants of which can still be found today. More than one third of the total land area of the prefecture is designated as natural park area including Ise-Shima, and nearby is Ise-jingu Shrine, making Tsu a headquarters for both sightseeing and business. As such, the area plays an important role as a center of both industry and culture in Mie Prefecture.
The Sakakibara-onsen Hot Spring is located about thirty minutes from the city’s urban area. The hot spring, which was mentioned by Sei Shonagon in her book of observations and musings entitled the “Makura-no-soshi (The Pillow Book),” can even be enjoyed as a pleasant daytrip from the city. Nearby are more hot springs, such as Inokura and Hinotani, and other hidden sightseeing spots. The world-famous brand beef called “Matsusaka beef” is from Matsusaka city located next to Tsu city.
One of area’s famous and unique dishes is ‘tenmusu.’ Stuffed inside a small ball of rice is a large piece of ‘tempura’ shrimp, a dish that originated at a local tempura restaurant in the city of Tsu. In addition, you can enjoy sweets such as ‘ichigo daifuku.’ A strawberry and sweet filling are wrapped inside a small round ‘mochi’ rice cake, the taste of which is simply delicious. There are also other versions, featuring such ingredients as grapes, pineapples, pears and chestnuts, which are available for a limited time during season. There are also more than ten ‘unagi (eel)’ shops in the city that compete with each other while serving up flavorful Kansai-style dishes featuring crispy, grilled eel.
One of the joys of traveling must be feasting on famous local dishes after a day of walking about this town.