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Ise Shrine (Ise-jingū 伊勢神宮) is a Shinto shrine to the goddess Amaterasu ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan.

Officially known simply as Jingū or "The Shrine," Ise Jingū is in fact a shrine complex composed of over one hundred individual shrines, divided into two main parts. Gekū (外宮), or the Outer Shrine, is located in the town of Yamada and dedicated to the deity Toyouke no ōmikami, while Naikū (内宮), or the Inner Shrine, is located in the town of Uji and dedicated to Amaterasu ōmikami. The two are located some six kilometers apart, joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi. The High Priestess of the Ise Shrine must come from the Japanese Imperial Family, and watches over the Shrine. The current High Priestess of the shrine is Kuni Kuniaki, son of the former Prince Kuni Asaakira (brother of the Empress Kojun).

According to the official chronology, the shrines were originally constructed in the year 4 BC, but most historians date them from several hundred years later, with 690 AD widely considered the date when the shrines were first built in their current form. Legends say that Naikū was established by Yamatohime-no-mikoto. The shrines are mentioned in the annals of the Kojiki and Nihonshoki (dating from 712 and 720, respectively). The old shrines are dismantled and new ones built to exacting specifications every 20 years at exorbitant expense. The present buildings, dating from 1993, are the 61st iteration to date and are scheduled for rebuilding in 2013.

The Ise Shrine has a national treasure in its possession. Reputedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is arguably the holiest and most important Shinto site. Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the common public allowed to see little more than the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind three tall wooden fences.

The street leading to Ise Shrine is lined with shops, restaurants, and just about anything else you could want ... very authentic Japanese street.

This is the restaurant we ate at ... Horaitei and had Matsuzaka beef bowls, it was very delicious.

You can see the torii, the entrance to a shinto shrine, in the distance.

At the entrance to Ise Shrine park area.

Crossing the river

Very nice garden areas along the walk to the Ise Shrine

Ashley cheesin' and having fun!

The Rising Sun

This is the washing area where everyone rinses their hands and mouth as a ritual before then enter the shrine.

The rivers edge

A beautiful point on a building before the shrine.

The path to Ise Shrine is through a very old forest ...

look at the size of these trees!

The steps up to Ise Shrine.

The Ise Shrine torii.

People going to the offering place.

Everyone, inlcuding kids, know the ritual of bowing twice, clapping twice and directing your prayer towards the kami.

One of the "priests" or whatever a Shinto guy is called.

The area beyond the alter area. No grass, just pebbles.

Ise Shrine, the real shrine, is actually beyond that wall in the back.

Leaving the shrine.

Ise Shrine was built in 690 A.D. and every 20 years since, a new shrine is built to preserve the craftsmanship! This is the other location.

The best picture I could get of the inner shrine. Even on all of the souvenirs and paintings the roof is all that is shown.

This is the building with the neat looking roof.

These are shinto guys doing calligraphy.

There was a wood wind Japanese flute orchestra playing in one of the many buildings in the Ise Shrine grounds area.

There was a koi pond with some of the largest koi I have ever seen!

Some snacks on the street ... you can have baby octopus, chicken, weiners, or squid on a stick. Sorry, no popcorn, nachos, and a coke!

A wood carving guy. He had lots of cool hand carvings in his shop (see the next picture).

Now that's cool!

We are taking a break and eating oshiruko. It is a winter food ... thick sweet bean soup with sweat rice cake (close to hot chocolate & marshmellows)

Some drummers doing an exhibition in an area called Okage Yokocho ... it was really loud, you could feel it through your whole body.

The river from a different bridge.

On our way to Meotoiwa and the wedded rocks!

 

Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩) or the Husband-and-Wife Rocks are a couple of small rocky stacks in the sea off Futami, Mie. They are joined by a shimenawa (a heavy rope of rice straw) and are considered sacred by worshippers at the neighbouring Okitama-jinja. In Japanese Shinto belief, the rocks represent the union of creator gods Izanagi and Izanami. The rocks therefore celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman. The rope, which weighs over a ton, must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony. The larger rock, said to be male, has a small Torii at its peak.

Okitama-jinja is dedicated to a food goddess Miketsu. There are numerous statues of frogs around the jinja. The jinja and rocks are located near to the Grand Shrine of Ise, the most important Shinto location.

The wedded rocks

Woops! Looking at the wrong camera!

Ashley and I infront of the wedded rocks.

Ashley and I with a frog, there are actually several around this shrine area.

Another purifying water place.