Very much on the tour bus trail from Ise Jingu are the twin rocks of Meoto-iwa, off the coast of Ise Shima in Futami, Mie Prefecture.
The two rocks in the sea are held as being male and female (one is much larger than the other) and are joined in Shinto matrimony by heavy holy ropes made of rice straw (shimenawa). The rocks can also be considered as representations of Izanagi and Izanami, the two gods who created Japan, according to the mythology.
The ropes are replaced with new ones in an annual festival on January 5th and at other times during the year if necessary. The twin crags are a popular place to watch the sunrise, with summer being the best time of year to do so.
On shore, the Okitama Shrine is dedicated to a Japanese goddess of food, Miketsu. The shrine is surrounded by stone and metal statues of frogs, some worn smooth where people have rubbed them for luck.
The area around Meoto-iwa has been developed into a long arcade - Futami Sea Paradise - with souvenir stores, restaurants and shops selling the local seafood. Next to the arcade is an aquarium with a trio of large sealions in a small pool in the car park outside.
It's 21st century tack on a large scale.
The nearest station is JR Futaminoura which is about a mile (1.5km) from the rocks. Alternatively there is a bus from Ise Grand Shrine (Naiku).
The Taiko-ji Youth Hostel (Tel: 0596 43 2283) is nearby, along with a number of ryokan and minshuku (guesthouses), such as the Yamato Bread & Breakfast with fine sea views.
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Tuesday, January 06, 2009