Japanese language & culture blog

I’m not sure whether any of you use Microsoft’s Bing as your search provider of choice, and I won’t argue about the quality of it’s search results, but you have to admit that the daily photos showcased on the Bing’s frontpage are no less than mesmerizing! Taken by professional photographers, all over the world, I often can’t believe that what I see exists in real life. One such moment was when I saw the photos of Meoto Iwa this Monday.

Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩)—also known as the Loved one-and-loved one rocks or the Wedded rocks—are a couple of small sacred rocky stacks in the sea near the Okitama Shrine in Futami, Mie. What separates them from the rest, is the shimenawa (しめ縄) that joins them. The 35 meters long braided rice straw rope weighs over a tonne and must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony. The rocks represent the union of creator kami Izanagi and Izanami and the union between husband and wife. The larger rock with the torii gate on it’s peak is nine meters high and is said to be male, where as the smaller rock, four meters high, female.

The nearby Okitama Shrine (Futami Okitama Jinja, 二見興玉神社) is surrounded by dozens of frog statues of all types, made with all kinds of materials. The shrine and the two rocks are located near the Grand Shrine of Ise, the most important location in Shinto. Under ideal weather conditions, Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance.