... so of course i looked into it. called the wedded rocks, or meoto-iwa, they are in futami-ga-ura, mie prefecture, south of ise in the ise-shima national park. in the native japanese religion, shinto, it's followers revere gods and spirits that personify all aspects of nature - like the sky, the earth, and all other sorts of natural phenomena. rocks and trees can be sacred objects to followers of shinto, and they are often wrapped with a ceremonial white rice-straw rope called shimenawa. that's what's going on here at meoto-iwa. there is also some mention of the two rocks representing a husband and wife, wedded together. i just think this is such a beautiful, lyrical, natural way of placing emphasis on an ordinary, natural phenomenon that might otherwise be taken for granted. um, but not by practicers of shinto, i guess, since those are their deities. well, you get what i mean... such an amazing image/idea/belief to draw inspiration from!
i don't pretend to know anything about shinto and shimenawa, so check out these links to learn what (little) i learned:
- japanzone.com - shinto beliefs
- japanatlas.com - futami-ga-ura
- japanvisitor.com - a shortlist of japan's buddhist temples and shinto shrines
- randy's favorite getaways in rural japan (thanks randy, whomever you may be...)
- japan-guide.com - basic info on meoto-iwa, including a link to a site with tide schedules, because it seems to be perferable to see it when tides are high.
- trip to japan - travel tips on the chubu region, where these towns are located
i also learned that ise, which is nearby, is home to some of japan's most sacred shinto shrines. also nearby are some pearl farms that you can check out and tour. nagoya, japan's 4th largest city, might be a good base from which to start all of these adventures - a 2 hour train ride from tokyo and a great example of a more traditional japan of years past.