A prominent place in Japan for the sunrise and a matchmaking spot
Since ancient times, Meotoiwa has been a sacred place worshiping the sunrise. The holy rock of Okitama Jinseki is enshrined 700m offshore which is said to have been visited by the gods from Heaven. The heavy rice straw rope which binds the 9m male rock and the 4m female rock is replaced three times a year. And annually, on May 5th, September 5th and in mid-December, there is a religious ritual held with the rope. Meotoiwa is famous as a site to see the sunrise, and between May and July, the rising sun can be seen between the two rocks. At around the summer solstice on a good day, you can also view the sunrise with Mt. Fuji in the background which brings a lot of visitors. Also during the winter solstice, you can also see the rise of the moon between the rocks.
A shrine by the sea with a fine reputation for matchmaking
Near Meotoiwa is Futami Okitama Shrine. The enshrined deity of Sarutahiko-no-okami is worshiped there, and the shrine is said to bring good fortune in terms of matchmaking, a successful marriage and traffic safety. The divine messenger for Sarutahiko-no-okami, who is also known as the god of guidance, is the frog. On the grounds of the shrine, there are countless numbers of stone statues of frogs which bestow good fortune on visitors after they pay their respects and offer thanks to the god. Many of the products conferred by the shrine have a frog motif.
Before making that pilgrimage of Ise Jingu, purify yourself at Futami Okitama Shrine
Long ago, before pilgrimages to Ise Jingu or the holding of festivals, it was customary to hold a purification ceremony at Futamiura which was known as a pure beach. Currently, this ceremony is called Hamasangu and at Futami Okitama Shrine, undergoing purification is a common phenomenon. The harvested amamo or marine grass near Okitama Jinseki is purified as sun-dried “lucky grass” or mukushiokusa. Even now, participants in the special ceremony of transferring the object of worship from an old shrine to a new shrine which takes place only once in 20 years undergo Hamasangu. How about visiting Futami Okitama Shrine to take part in this ancient custom before visiting Ise Jingu?