Japan Day 4. Ise-Jingu.

Jun 01 2008

I managed to sleep til 5:00 a.m. today. And only woke up then because Kristine was bugging me to get up. An awesome, sunny, beautiful day. But a typhoon is on the way. So we decided to do an outdoor trip today. I begged Miranda to go to Ise, and she finally gave in.

Ise is the home of a Shinto shrine known as Ise-Jingu. It is the holiest place in Japan. It’s about an hour and a half drive away. The shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the Sun Goddess of the Shinto religion. It was founded 2000 years ago but each building is rebuilt every 20 years. There are several important artifacts of the Shinto religion kept here. The most important is a hand mirror that supposedly belonged to Amaterasu. This is like the Japanese Holy Grail. It is housed in the main building of the shrine. This hall is enclosed in four gates. You can get through the first one, which puts you about 100 feet from the main building. There is a steady, heavy stream of people going in to pray there. No photos allowed. If you make arrangements, you can get past the next gate into the courtyard and pray there, with a Shinto priest. Only the priests, and perhaps the royal family ever go inside to see the mirror itself.

I’d read about Amaterasu and the mirror at Ise years ago, so I was pretty psyched to actually get to see… the building where it supposedly is. 🙂

The bridge to Ise-Jingu.

Washing hands – symbolic cleansing – before entering.

Miranda next to a really big tree.

Up to the first gate.

The first gate. Beyond here, no pictures.

I was able to get a peak, and photo, of the main hall from around back.

A koi came up to say hello in one of the koi ponds in the shrine.

Shinto shrines are pretty amazing places. They generally have a good amount of land, with buildings here and there, but are mostly woods and nature. They are these really incredible natural places, but so beautiful and peaceful that they are almost super-natural. It’s like nature had a hand becoming even more natural.

I also found out today that the local shrine we visited the other day, with the waterfalls, is actually a pretty famous and important shrine – Tado Taisho. 

After the shrine we walked around Ise. There’s this street with a whole bunch of shops. Really old school Japan. I felt like I was walking through a Hayao Miyazaki movie.

 

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