Meoto Iwa: A Miraculous Scene that Shines Between the Rocks
The Meoto Iwa or Married Couple Rocks are a set of rocks that create a very mystical scene. Due to variances in season and time of day, the meoto iwa can produce an even more beautiful scenery. Today, we introduce the history of these rocks and recommended times for visiting the location.
Futami Okitama Shrine
The meoto iwa are located in Futami Okitama Shrine of Ise in Mie Prefecture. This location is relatively close to the famous Ise Jingu Shrine. It is said that in the old days, there was a custom to cleanse the body by immersing in the sea waters by the Futami Okitama Shrine prior to visiting the Ise Jingu Shrine. Nowadays, people do not immerse their body in sea water, but it seems there are still quite a significant number of people who stop by the Futami Okitama Shrine prior to paying a visit to the Ise Jingu Shrine. Information: Map
Mangan Gaeru (Frog of Vow Fulfillment)
All over Futami Okitama Shrine, there are frogs in various places. The reason is that frogs are considered a messenger of the god and therefore worshipped. This Mangan Frog that is in the grounds of the shrine is one of such frogs and it is said that your wish will come true if you pour water on it. Try pouring water on the frog in the water. If you are superstitious, you may actually see some good luck such as a safe return, return of things that you have lost, return of money, return of youthfulness, etc. because in Japanese the word frog “kaeru” is a homonym for the word to return.
And now, we introduce the symbolic rocks, meoto iwa or married couple rock, which can be said to be a highlight of the Futami Okitama Shrine. Even the shore near where these rocks are, there are many stone figurines of the divine messengers, frogs. The meoto iwa has made Futami Okitama Shrine very famous, so much so that it is the second most famous shrine in Mie Prefecture after the Ise Jingu Shrine.
- Otoko iwa – Male/Husband Rock (to the left): 9 meters
- Onna iwa – Female/Wife Rock (to the right): 4 meters
- O-Shimenawa – Enclosing rope of ritual purification (the entire length including the length of rope wrapped around the rocks): 35 meters
The meoto iwa as you see, was named because the sight reminds viewers of a couple sitting side by side. It is said to bring happiness to a married couple and well-being of the family. It is said that god resides in the rock called Okitama Shinseki that sits 700 meters off shore under the waters. The meoto iwa also acts as a torii entrance gate to this god (there is actually a torii on top of the otoko iwa).
Additionally, the region where the meoto iwa is has historically been known as a scenic place often depicted in ukiyo-e art. This ukiyo-e piece is from about 150 years ago, but it is said that going back even further, a few hundred years back, there was already a shimenawa rope on these rocks, as can be seen in the meoto iwa today.
The Timing that Meoto Iwa Becomes Most Scenic
The Rising Sun Hidden Behind Mount Fuji (Summer), http://photohito.com/
The times of the year that are particularly ideal for visiting the meoto iwa are around May to July based on the summer solstice and around October to January based on the winter solstice. A view of the sunrise or full moon can be seen between the rocks in the morning for the former timing and in the evening for the latter timing. Additionally, for about a week before and after the summer solstice (the summer solstice falls on June 21st in 2016), if the weather is right, you will see an amazing view of the sunrise as the sun rises from behind Mount Fuji and through the rocks of the meoto iwa.
We recommend that you plan your trip to coincide with the bsest timing to see meoto iwa at its best. If you can plan your tour so you can visit the Ise Jingu Shrine as well, you are sure to have an even better sightseeing experience.