Saturday another big dream for me came true – a trip to the Grand Shrine of Ise, Japan’s most sacred place. According to Japanese mythology the sun goddess Amaterasu gave the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan – sword, mirror and jewel – to Ninigi-no-Mikoto and while the sword and jewel are located at the Atsuta shrine in Nagoya and the Imperial Palace in Tokyo the mirror is kept at Ise.
What is simply called a shrine is in reality a complex of several bigger and smaller shrines located at two sites – the outer (geku å¤–å®®) and inner (naiku å†…å®®) shrine. We took the train from Nagoya and when you arrive at Ise you just have to walk for about 500m to arrive at the outer shrine. The weather was perfect and I was lucky to go there with a person like A. who shares my enthusiasm for Japan’s sacred places and understands if I spend minutes staring at the buildings or talking to the enormous trees.
Although it said in the travel guide that if one’s in a hurry it’s better to skip the outer and go straight to the inner shrine I can’t agree. The atmosphere there with all the green and huge, old trees was amazing.
Actually it’s forbidden to enter the area directly around the shrine buildings themselves but at least the tourists/pilgrims are allowed to peek over a fence to get a glimpse of the thatched roofs with the golden embellishments.
Yes, the trees were HUGE, and yes, I do talk to them. Only this time I wasn’t the only one We saw Japanese everywhere hugging trees, touching trees, pressing their ears to the ancient stems (okay, I did that too but couldn’t hear anything…so we have the theory that one day somebody started, other saw and imitated that person and so on…like when you stare up at the sky and suddenly others stop to do the same thing xP)
The bridge above, made out of one gigantic stone, is supposed to look like a turtle ^^
I bought the most beautiful protective charms I had seen so far – shaped like the legendary magatama – for my parents and one for myself. And of course I prayed bowing twice, clapping twice, bowing one more time and thanked for the wonderful time I have at the moment ^^
From the outer we headed to the inner shrine with a bus in which a lovely recorded voice told me to „press the butter“ if I wanted to get off xDÂ The naiku is surrounded by hills and thousands of trees…oh, and tourists.
At the inner shrine I bought some more protective charms, talked to even more trees and was able to recharge my batteries.
Mah, I’m running out of things to tell inbetween the pictures
After all the spiritual input we came back down to earth to enjoy a little strolling around the nearby quarter that is designed to look like back from the Edo period. It was packed with tourists but the atmosphere was good nonetheless.
Fresh green tea anyone?
One shop was entirely for manaki neko – fortune cats.
As if spiritual fulfillment wasn’t enough for one day we headed to a small town called Futami to see the meoto iwa – the wedded rocks. To our suprise there was a big aquarium at the bus stop with sea lions outside.
We arrived before twilight and spent some time at the beach picking seashells and enjoying a salty breeze.
Hm, who’s that? xP
I wonder if I had ever seen so many shrines on one day. Each and every one of them is beautiful in its own way and I never seem to get tired of them. ^^
I especially like the different temizuya where you wash your hands and normally mouth for purification.
Finally, here they are – the wedded rocks that symbolize the deities Izanami and Izanagi. To be honest they were a lot smaller than expected…but who cares? They look great on pictures.
I love the next picture ♥
Another temizuya with a lot of frogs. ^^
At every shrine it’s possible to buy ema – small wooden plaques on which you can write your prayers and wishes. The one on the left without the tiger is A.’s ^^
Ah, the suspicious person again!
All in all I had a fantastic day and can only recommend a trip to Ise if you’re at least in some way interested in shinto, Japanese culture or sprituality.
I guess with this picture everything is said ^^ „May Peace Prevail On Earth“ irrespective of origin or believe!