January is a wonderful time to visit Ise in Mie-Prefecture and Ise's biggest attraction, Ise Jingu. The Ise Grand Shrine is a complex of 125 Shinto shrines, centered around the two main shrines, Naiku and Geku. The New Year's crowds at Naiku and Geku create an almost festival-like atmosphere, but there are also many serene places to visit among the myriad of shrines.
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I enjoyed living in Japan for nearly seven years. After studying Journalism and Japanese studies in Chicago, I first went to Japan in 2005 and taught English for two years. I returned to the States, but I soon found myself back again. My second time in Japan was only for one year, which I spent working at a Japanese company. On my third stretch, I returned with my wife and ended up working at a study abroad agency, helping Japanese students pursue their dreams of studying English in different countries. I spent all of my seven years living in Hyogo, the heart of Japan, where I split my free time between traversing the great outdoors and seeking out design-centric shops and cafes in Kobe and the Hanshin area. Hyogo has a little bit of everything, and it's the perfect fit for someone who loves both beautiful, natural scenery and modern, urban adventure.