|A Blend of Natural Beauty and Religious
The entire stretch of coast in Mie Prefecture along Ise Bay on the Shima Peninsula is an area of scenic beauty that has been designated the Ise-Shima National Park. South of Futami Beach there is a ria coastline that consists of a series of inlets, at Toba, Matoya, Ago, and Gokasho, which were formed by the sinking of the land and the rise in sea level after the glacial period. This intricate pattern of inlets and islands, large and small, offers magnificent views. The calm water in the bays and the mild climate has favored the culture of pearls in Ago Bay, and the area is renowned for bounties of the sea, such a rich harvest of marine delicacies.
Ise Jingu, a shrine of high importance of the Shinto religion, is also located in the area. Ise-Shima thus has a plenty of Japan's most important historical sites, legends, living festivals and customs. There is always something new to discover. From times long past, Futami-ga-Ura has been a place where pilgrims on the way to Ise Jingu have come to cleanse their bodies and spirits before worshipping.
In the bay there are two rocks sitting side-by-side, one large, one smaller, known as Meoto-iwa (the Wedded Rocks). Two rocks are tied together by shimenawa, ceremonial rope that is made of entwined and twisted rice straw and is used to mark off sacred or purified areas, and you can often see it on the gates of shrines. One of these ropes is suspended between the rocks and serves as a torii, a type of gateway that demarcates the precincts of Futami Okutama Jinja.
Photos: Meoto-iwa in Futamigaura (Futami Town Office).
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