The Outer Shrine (外宮, Gekū) is one of the two main shrines making up the Ise Shrines in Ise City. Formally known as the Toyouke Daijingu, the Outer Shrine enshrines Toyouke Omikami, the Shinto deity and guardian of food, housing and clothing. Toyouke provides the food for the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, who is enshrined at the Inner Shrine, four kilometers to the south. The Outer Shrine is traditionally visited before the Inner Shrine.
The Outer Shrine is believed to have been established over 1500 years ago, about 500 years after the Inner Shrine. Like the Inner Shrine, it is rebuilt every 20 years (the next time will be in 2033) and features an architectural style that is almost free of influence from the Asian mainland. The grounds of the Outer Shrine are a little bit smaller compared to the Inner Shrine's. They are traversed on gravel-covered walking paths that lead through a forest of tall trees.
At the entrance to the shrine grounds stands the Sengukan Museum. Opened in spring 2012 on the occasion of the shrine's most recent rebuilding, the museum explains visitors the monumental shrine rebuilding process. The museum's outstanding exhibits include a fourth of a 1:1 replica of the Inner Shrine's main building as well as a beautiful 1:20 model of the main sanctuary. An English pamphlet and audio guide are available, but all the signs are in Japanese only.
The shrine's main sanctuary is reached in about a five minute walk from the Sengukan Museum and is quite similar to the one at the Inner Shrine. The main building is surrounded by multiple sets of fences, and visitors are only allowed to go beyond the outermost of them. Only partially visible, the main building features forked roof finishings (chigi) that are cut vertically at their tips and nine decorative wooden beams (katsuogi). Photography is not allowed beyond the outermost fence.
A number of auxiliary shrine buildings stand not far from the main sanctuary at the base and summit of a small hill. They include the Kazenomiya, dedicated to the god of wind; the Tsuchinomiya, dedicated to the god of the land; and Takanomiya, dedicated to the spirit of Toyouke.
5:00 to 19:00 (May to August)
5:00 to 17:00 (October to December)