Ise - Ise Shrine & Futami

12-13 March 2010

After 3 days Kyoto, which is way too short to really see the city, but enough to get the taste, we rented a car an headed for several famous spots in the countryside of Mie and Wakayama prefectures, and Shikoku island.

We stayed in onsen hotel Michishio in the Ise-Shima national park for 2 nights. Although it is about 30km south of the city center, and thus not very convenient as a "base satation" for the sights in Ise, the views of the rocks, islands, and bays in this area is very nice.

The Ise shrine is considered the holiest of holy shrines in Japan. It actually consists of 2 main shrines, Gekū and Naikū, which are about 4km apart, and many small shrines and spiritual sites scattered around the area. The high priest(ress) of the Ise shrine should come from the imperial family, and the main buildings are so holy that normal people cannot see much of them, and their unique architecture is not allowed to be used anywhere else.
The main shrine buildings and the Uji bridge are rebuilt every 20 years on adjacent sites. This tradition reflects the shinto belief in nature's renewal through death and the temporality of things in general. It also ensures that the specific craftsmanship and knowledge of the architecture are passed on from generation to generation.

All kinds of trival things are made spiritual here... I wonder what bad thing this manhole cover misdid that it didn't get any rope with shide (white zig-zag paper stip).

This is only the gate building, not the real shrine. No photos allowed any further inside.

This is supposedly a replica of the real shrine, and probably still much holier than any other shrine in Japan. Somehow it is extremely boring to go here, on the other hand, it is really intriguing to see what kind of a fuss people can create when it comes to religion and spirituality.

View from the hotel room: rafts for cultivating pearls in Ago bay (Ise-Shima national park)

These are the Meoto Iwa or "Married rocks" in Futami, just east of Ise city. It is another very famous spiritual place.

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