Since ancient times, the Ise Bay watershed has been blessed by the bounties of both land and sea and has been a center of both rice cultivation and other types of agriculture, fishing and trade, as well as numerous other human activities. The bay has endowed the people living around it with so many things, not the least of which is the creation of a distinctive culture in the region.

Unique communities subsequently developed in the coastal areas of the bay’s watershed due to the advantages it offered for transport and its geographical location in the center of Japan. This, in turn, gave rise to diverse manufacturing industries and cultural activities, with the result that the Ise Bay region has had a profound impact on Japanese history. Particularly as industries were centralized in coastal areas following the end of the Second World War, the Ise Bay region made a major contribution to Japan’s rapid economic growth in the postwar period. However, in the process, landfills and the like reduced the number of tidelands, seaweed beds and other areas with excellent environmental preservation functions that provided habitats for a diverse array of creatures in the bay.

While Ise Bay has provided the people living along its shores with many benefits, the history of the relationship between Ise Bay and people is also the history of a battle with natural forces: typhoons, tidal waves, high surf, high tides, coastal erosion and so on. The ferociousness of nature has shown itself in many forms in Ise Bay, including the Ise Bay Typhoon of 1959 as well as torrential rains, flooding and other havoc. For this reason, coastal preservation facilities and other means of protecting human life from natural disasters have been created in Ise Bay. However, this has come at a price: namely, more and more regions that are cut off from the sea.

Today the status of Ise Bay and its watershed is undergoing great changes resulting from increasing internationalization, greater international competition, diversifying values, a rapidly aging population, a deeper awareness of environmental issues and so on. These changes are beginning to alter the expectations placed on the bay.