After dropping our luggage in the charming ryokan, it’s time to discover our surroundings. Thanks to our precious JR Pass, we took the train to Futami (about 20 mins journey from Isa-shi) to admire the famous ‘Wedded Rocks’ of Meoto Iwa.
MEOTO IWA at FUTAMI
The town is very tranquil (probably because it wasn’t high season) and it was a thrill to see the sea after spending a few days in the chaos of the city.
The two rocks represent the marital union of the two divine founders of Japan: the husband (Izanagi) and his wife (Izanami). These two rocks are bound by a sacred rope braided with rice straw (=shimenawa).
It seems that the rope is replaced 3 times a year (you can never be too careful with matrimony these days!) during celebrations in May, September and December.
FUTAMI OKITAMA JINJA
Close to the sacred rocks lays a Shintoist sanctuary called the Futami Okitama Jinja: it’s the holy pilgrimage destination for old and young married couples alike who want their love to be “forever”.
I have to say that I did buy I little trinket in this historical sanctuary (and from now on I will be waiting for my 3 rings a year, if I want to believe in the legend of the “Wedded Rocks”).
There are little ‘souvenir’ frogs scattered around everywhere which are meant to bring riches. Love and money in one foul swoop, we are spoilt, very spoilt!
Back to Ise to visit the Ise Jingu sanctuary, that every Japanese is meant to visit at least once in a lifetime.
It is part of two different sanctuaries: Ise Geku (outside sanctuary, 5 mins walk from the train station) and Ise Naiku (indoor sanctuary, situated 20 mins bus ride from the train station). Taking pictures is not allowed everywhere so I did what I could.
The sanctuary is destroyed and rebuilt every 20 years (last rebuilt was in 2013), honoring the Shintoist idea of birth and death of nature. Making us realise that nothing is eternal (not even the love we were promised in the Futomi sanctuary? Arggh! Are we being lied to?!!).
Sanctuaire KAWABE NANAKUSA
Situated close by the Ryokan Hoshidekan, very small but bags of charm.
Now let’s talk about the gourmet addresses that I was happy to test out in Ise:
(Kawasaki 2-13-6 , Ise) A kind of Japanese tapas bar (Izakawa) who serve delicious sashimis, sushis and other delights.
Here nobody speaks English. We did our best to order by making lots of funny gestures and some drawings (they seemed to enjoy it because I even received a special scribbled portrait from one of the cooks).
We started with sashimis, some kolokke (potatoe buns) followed by grilled fish.
Then we finished off with fried oysters: a delight! The service was impeccable, the place warm and fun, I loved it!
( Iwabushi 1-1-26, Ise) Some delicious sushis with the famous ‘toro’ (fatty tuna) that melts in your mouth!
Again amazing service which even went to the sushi-chef following us on his pink bike to make sure we followed the right direction to the train station! (more than professional conscience, pure human grace!)
I don’t know what the exact name of this shop is but this is what I made of it.
If you go past this lovey place (a stone throw away from the Ise Geku on the way to the train station), you will savor a very ‘creamy’ happy moment.
(Address on the map here) A patisserie ‘à la française’ in Japan.
The Mont-Blanc and the patisseries made with ‘matcha’ are divine which is enough to forgive their little spelling mistakes (“Moelleux aux amandeR” (sponge almondR cakes) ?? Hello Paris can’t hear you there !??). (English translation by Isa)
Previously on MY JAPAN TRAVEL DIARY :
Notre appart à Tokyo
Day 1 : Sumida Park & Asakusa
Day 2 : Namco Namjatown
Day 3 : Omotesando & Harajuku
Day 4 : Ueno Park
Day 5 : Errances gourmandes à Omotesando
Day 6 : Odaiba お台場
Day 7 : Tsukiji market, Meiji & Yoyogi
Day 8 : Tokyo Skytree
Day 9 : Dans le train pour Osaka !
Day 10 : Osaka Castle & Hanami au Mint
Day 11 : Osaka DenDen Town
Day 12 : Nagoya
Day 13 : Takayama Spring Festival
Day 14 : Notre ryokan “Hoshidekan” à Ise