I visited the「 Naiku 」of the Ise-jinguu(shrine) and strolled around the「Oharai-machi」
Ise-jingu in Mie prefecture is said to be the representative for all Shinto shrines in Japan. It is an integral part of Japan`s identity. There are 2 main shrines on a site made up of 125 shrines. One is「Kotai-jingu(Naiku)」 dedicated to 「Amaterasu-Omikami the deification of the Sun. The other main part is 「Toyouke-daijingu(Geku) 」dedicated to 「Toyouke-no-Omikami」 known as the guardian of well-being who provides the three essentials to human life: food, clothing, and shelter. Generally speaking it is good manners to visit the Geku (outer shrine) first, then go into the Naiku (inner shrine). I didn’t have much time so I decided to only visit the「Naiku」 .
I have wanted to visit the Naiku for a long time. I’m finally here entering through the 7.4m gate.
I walked across the Uji bridge which spans the Isuzu river as I walked toward the precincts of the shrine. After I crossed the bridge it was as if I had entered a secret area secluded from the secular world.
I found a good spot to see the Uji bridge from below. Once you have crossed the bridge, turn left and you will see the Uji bridge. It’s length is 101.8m and it serves as the main entrance to Jingu (grand shrine).
Now facing back to the bridge, turn right and walk straight.
corner you will see 「Isusugawa Mitarashi」. This is a site to cleanse yourself both physically and spiritually with the pure water streaming down the Isuzu river. Please wash your hands and proceed to the main part.
On the way I passed the 「Kagura-den」 and 「Gojo-den 」where you can buy Amulets and talismans issued by the shrine. I am finally in the 「Shogu Main sanctuary」.
It was a really hot day. Even though I was sweating, I could rest here and there under the shadows of the big trees. When I saw how large the trees were I was overwhelmed as my thoughts turned to the long history behind this place of worship. I walked the area solemnly in deep thought.
Now I was in front of the 「Shogu」 . It is etiquette here to never take photos from the stone steps forward.
I kept going up the stone steps and arrived at the front of the「Shogu」which is dedicated to 「Amaterasu-Omikami」. There is a bamboo blind acting as a divider to conceal the inside. By chance there were gusts of wind which blew the blind aside and I saw inside! I was deeply touched that the wind was so timely.
I proceeded to the 「Aramatsuri-no-miya」. This place holds the Holy Mirror of the spirit of Amaterasu-Omikami. When I went there the left side had been opened for 「Sengu」.
Do you know what 「Sengu」 means? It literally means “moving palace”. Every twenty years a new divine palace with the same dimensions as the current one is constructed at an alternate site adjacent to the main sanctuary. Sengu is the word used to describe this ritual. In the above photo, you can see the new palace has been built on the right side. After 20 years have passed, a new palace will be constructed again on the left side. That`s the pattern. The last time they held Sengu was in 2013 and that was the 62nd time. So they have been keeping this ritual for 1300 years. Repeatedly yet regularly they are moving the Holy Mirror which is a symbol of Amaterasu-Omikami.
I walked further on and there was a pond next to「Miumaya」.
I held my breath as I took in the beautiful scenery of woods reflecting on the surface of the pond.
It was a one hour walk on a hot summer day but I was glad to have visited this place. I hope to come back again. On the way back I walked the「Oharai-machi」 which is an 800 m long stone paved street.
Ise is famous for 「Akafuku 」which is a sticky rice cake wrapped in red bean paste. At the Akafuku shop, I had Matcha shaved ice (¥520). There was 「Akafuku」 inside and Shiratama (rice-flour dumplings) hiding in the Matcha flavoured shaved ice. After a long walk on a hot day, it was exactly what I needed!
「Oharai-machi」 is so beautiful. If I had more time and stamina I would have spent more time strolling. I swear next time I’m coming back during a cool season.
Finally, I will explain how to get there.
You can either take a taxi or city bus from Ise-city station on the Kintetsu line or the JR line.
Another way is from Uji-Yamada station on the Kintetsu line.
At the Uji-Yamada station go to bus stop number 1. It will cost ¥410 to go to Ise Jingu. The bus ride will be approximately 20 minutes and they run the bus about 4-6 times an hour.
If you are taking a taxi from Uji-Yamada station it will cost you about ¥2000 and take about 10 minutes to get there.
Shot on：July 19, 2016