The Inner Shrine of Ise-jingū is thought to date from the 3rd century and enshrines the sun goddess, Amaterasu-Ōmikami, considered the ancestral goddess of the imperial family and guardian deity of the Japanese nation. Naikū is held in even higher reverence than Gekū because it houses the sacred mirror of the emperor, one of the three imperial regalia (the other two are the sacred beads, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, and the sacred sword, at Atsuta-jingū in Nagoya).
Pick up an English-language leaflet (same one given out at Gekū) at the stall just before the shrine entrance. Next to the stall, the bridge Uji-bashi crosses the crystal-clear river Isuzu-gawa into the shrine. Just off the main gravel path is a mitarashi , the place for pilgrims to purify themselves in the river before entering the shrine.
The path continues along an avenue lined with towering cryptomeria trees to the Goshōden , the main shrine building. As at Gekū, you can only catch a glimpse of the top of the structure from here, past four rows of wooden fences. Closed-circuit TV cameras not so cleverly disguised as trees keep an eye out for potential fence-jumpers!
To get to Naikū, take bus 51 or 55 from bus stop 11 outside Ise-shi Station’s south exit (walk south on the main street) or the stop on the main road in front of Gekū (¥410, 15 to 20 minutes). Get off at the Naikū-mae stop. From Naikū, return buses depart from bus stop 2. Alternatively, taxi fare between Ise-shi Station and Naikū costs about ¥2000.