These two rocks connected by a thick rope and the little torii on top is one of these mysterious images that inevitably draw visitors to Japan. But if you actually go to see them won’t that strip them of their mystique forever? Let’s try with Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩)!
I arrive early in the morning, the day after a visit to the Ise Grand Shrine. The sun is already up but my timing is right, the colours are beautiful and the site is especially fascinating backlit.
On the other hand, surprise, surprise: it’s so small! So you have to play with photographic techniques to bring out the best features – not difficult as Meoto Iwa is such a great subject.
Meoto (meaning married couple or husband and wife) + iwa (stone) can be roughly translated as Married Rocks. The husband is obviously the larger of the two at 9 metres while his wife is only 4 metres. They are bound by a sacred rope that weighs nearly a tonne …! Makes you wonder which of the two rocks supports this vast rope, husband or wife? 🙂 The rope is replaced once a year during a special matsuri (festival).
The torii on the husband’s head is in honour of an underwater formation called Okimitama Shinseki (興玉神石) which lies 700 metres out in the ocean. I don’t know much about it so if you’re curious, why not go fishing and share your discoveries in the comments. I suspect something’s brewing down below… go on, I’m trying to get some research done 😉
Meoto Iwa can best be appreciated from Okitama shrine, dedicated to Miketsu, the goddess of good food. Strangely, she’s not alone here…
…she’s surrounded by a multitude of frogs! They’re quiet for once (Japanese frogs usually make an incredible racket).
Frogs are a central symbol of this shrine and are there to be venerated, not eaten, despite what you might be thinking. You’ll find over a hundred dotted all over the place.
And now for you, froggy, a little refreshment! Indeed this is a SPA for frogs and we are their slaves :/
The site is popular with photographers, especially during the month of June when the sun rises exactly between the two rocks, as shown below.
Meoto Iwa and Okitama temple are very different but each plays an important role in the life of couples who go there to pray for a good marriage (instead of making an effort?) and probably also for a banquet as delicious as it is bountiful.
Finally, here’s what Meoto Iwa looks like on a lovely day, well after sunrise (in fact rather late in the afternoon).
Now the question is: would you travel hundreds of kilometres to visit this unique spot? And a bonus question, more difficult. I’ve taken another picture of married rocks like these. Between these two rocks you can see something very, very special. Know what I mean? 🙂