| Golf tourism (trips that combine golfing and sightseeing opportunities) has been on the rise worldwide in the twenty-plus years since the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) was established in 1997.
The trend has been sweeping Japan as well, with the IAGTO hosting its first Japan Golf Tourism Convention in the country last year in Mie Prefecture. In this article, we focus on two Mie cities where you put together a trip that combines the best of golfing and sightseeing in the area.
Spend the day golfing in a gorgeous natural setting and take in the city lights at night
Get your fill of the local sights as you hit the tourist spots in Mie before and after your game. Base your trip out of the city of Yokkaichi in the north or the city of Ise in the east for the best travel experience.
Yokkaichi is the most important city in northern Mie and boasts the largest population of any other in the prefecture. A highway bus can get you to Yokkaichi in about an hour and forty-five minutes from Chubu Centrair International Airport. From Nagoya Station, which offers bullet train access to and from Tokyo or Osaka, you can take an express train and be there in about thirty minutes.
It’s about a two-hour train ride to the Mie Country Club (located in the town of Komono) from central Yokkaichi by train. With nearly six decades of history, it is one of Japan’s most renowned golf clubs. The expansive, flat terrain at the base of the mountains lets you enjoy a round of golf in a vast natural setting. Every hole offers wide fairways that appeal to both beginners and seasoned players alike. One of the best places to visit the day after you golf is Nabana no Sato in the city of Kuwana.
The seasonal flowers at Nabana no Sato create brilliant carpets of colors throughout the park. They’re lit up at night as well (through May 6), so you can enjoy them in an entirely different way from the daytime.
If you’re looking for other fun things to do at night, head to the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex—a popular destination for nighttime industrial views.
Built in the late 1950s, the Yokkaichi Industrial Complex was the first petrochemical complex in Japan. It is known for its refined, functional beauty and magical night views. In addition to enjoying them from the ground, you can also take one of the cruises that regularly run at night and get a different perspective from the water.
If you’re headed out to catch the night views, it’s possible to visit the hotspots the evening after your round of golf as well.
Take in the wonders of this seaside golf resort, then head to Japan’s most sacred site
Ise is another great city to visit if you want to enjoy both golf and sightseeing. The Ise-Shima area is known for its beautiful coastline dotted with islands, and Ise is the major city here. You can get here in about an hour and a half from Tokyo if you take the bullet train to Nagoya Station and then switch to a limited express. From Kansai International Airport it’s about the same amount of time via limited express from Osaka Namba Station. You can get there in about 45 minutes by ship or 30 minutes by train from Chubu Centrair International Airport.
One of the best things about playing golf in Ise-Shima is the resort-like feel that comes from being right next to the ocean. Many of the courses here offer scenic views of the gorgeous craggy coastline of Ago Bay.
The Nemu Golf Club underwent course renovations in 2015, resulting in an even more immediate ocean experience. The fifteenth tee, for example, lets golfers look out on Ago Bay as they take their first shot.
The Kintetsu Hamajima Country Club in the city of Ise is famous for its twelfth hole, which is not only the most difficult of the course, but also offers the most beautiful views with the Pacific Ocean spreading out behind the green on the second swing.
The area around the golf course is part of Ise-Shima National Park, and you can feel even more like you’re at a seaside resort if you head up to the Yokoyama observation platform to see the countless small islands scattered below.
No visit to Ise is complete without a visit to the ancient and renowned holy sites of the area, Ise Grand Shrine (visiting there is called “Oise Mairi”), and the Kumano Kodo, a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range. Make sure to extend your golfing trip for a few days in order to take in these famous tourist destinations as well.
Mie’s local cuisine offers premium ingredients and charming local specialty dishes
Mie Prefecture runs primarily north-south, with ample coastline and mountain views. Both fishing and agriculture are thriving industries, making the area a treasure trove of delicious food ingredients. From brand-name products like Ise lobster and Matsusaka beef to local favorites like Ise udon and miso cutlets, the sheer variety of flavors here is sure to delight. The urban districts of Yokkaichi and Ise offer a plethora of accessible dining options featuring local ingredients—and if you’re golfing, the resorts featured earlier also have restaurants serving plenty of local Mie fare.
Tonteki is a Yokkaichi specialty dish consisting of thick-cut pork sautéed in garlic and flavored with Worcestershire sauce. The Ise-Shima area is known for its fisherman’s dishes, like seafood rice bowls and marinated tekone sushi. Many of the area golf course restaurants serve these and other local favorites.
The stunning views and delicious cuisine of Mie Prefecture are sure to make your next trip with your golfing buddies that much more special. Make the most of the area’s well-appointed golfing opportunities while taking in the local history and culture for a trip you’re sure to remember.
For more information
・Mie tourist information (official Mie Prefecture Tourism Federation website)
Yokkaichi Tourism Association
・Iseshima tourism navigator
・Ise Grand Shrine