Establishing deep, lasting connections with local communities and cultures around the world is fundamental to the Aman philosophy. These Journeys – exclusively available at Amanemu – have been created to fully immerse guests in the charms of the Ise Shima region, regarded as Japan's spiritual heartland. They are the result of deep ties with an array of remarkable local merchants, guides and artisans – and in many ways, contribute to the preservation of some of Japan's finest crafts, cultures and cuisines.
A day in the life of an ama diver
The few remaining ama female divers are the torchbearers for one of Japan's most remarkable cultures. As hardy as they are alluring, these women free-dive to the ocean floor to gather pearls and seafood for trading ashore. On this Journey, guests are taken diving by a veteran ama as she hunts for seafood – including scallops, abalone and sazae horned turban. Back on dry land, she will prepare a fantastic seafood barbeque in a traditional amagoya hut.
Cultivate your very own akoya pearl
Ago Bay, situated a stone's throw from Amanemu, is a place of spectacular raw beauty. The oyster rafts dotting the calm waters are a telltale sign of the region's world-famous pearls. This Journey takes guests to one of the bay's most picturesque oyster farms. Here, guests work with a veteran of the industry to cultivate their very own akoya pearl – revered for their lustre and colouring. Months later, guests can either return to the region to extract their pearl, or have it delivered to a destination of their choice.
Ise Jingu and the food of the gods
Ise Jingu is the spiritual home of the Japanese people – a 2,000-year-old Shinto shrine with a divinity that must be experienced to comprehend. Among its most important rituals are the morning and evening meals offered to the deities, 365 days a year for the past 1,500 years. This Journey takes guests on a tour of the region to sample the foods included in those offerings. This is a unique culinary adventure to some of the finest producers in a place long known as Japan's Imperial breadbasket.
For centuries, Nikenchaya served as a stop for people visiting Ise Jingu, who would arrive by boat via the Seta river. Nearby Kawasaki, known as the 'kitchen of Ise', was abuzz with dock workers and warehouses. This Journey stops in both towns – two brilliant examples of life in the Edo Period (1603-1868).
Amanemu's two cycling courses, with high-end Bianchi road bikes and all necessary equipment provided, are the perfect way to explore the natural and cultural wonders of Ise Shima National Park. Choose between the Kashikojima to Yokoyama short tour (3 hours, 26.5 kilometres) and the Anori long tour (5 hours, 48.5 kilometres).
The woodlands of Ise Jingu grand shrine – Japan's holiest site – are said to cover an area about the size of Paris. The air of spirituality is palpable – and best experienced on foot, just like the pilgrims who have been making their way here for thousands of years. This short hike takes in some of Ise Jingu's most beautiful locations, including the 3.9-kilometre trail to the summit of Mt. Asama – offering a 555-metre-high panorama of Ise Bay, and even Mt. Fuji on clearer days.