Meotoiwa - The Wedded Rocks

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Japan  , Mie,
Monday, October 11, 2010

Was delighted today to make the pilgrimage to a sacred natural temple that features in the introduction to Sir Norman Lockyer's seminal treatise on Stonehenge ( - the first astronomical reading of that monument of which I own a rather fine second edition). Meotoiwa consists of two rocks, one large, the other smaller, that rise out of the sea a little off shore. Their significance lies in a natural alignment for which they form a framing presence. When seen at a certain auspicious time of year, and when observed from an unusual outcrop that projects a little from the shoreline, the viewer can look across the waters of the Irago Suido straits which lead into the Ise Wan bay, and witness the rising sun (the symbol of Japan) surface out of the distant hills on the far shore. More than this, if the weather is clear, framed between these two rocks, the sun will break into the sky out of the distant summit of Mt. Fuji.
It is for this reason that for centuries the site has been a sacred Shinto shrine and why they have been seen as an important symbol of fertility & marital unity. To formalise this unity, for centuries great ropes of reed have been wound and the two rocks have been symbolically tied together, earning them their name of the Wedded Rocks. It is for the reason of their astronomical alignment that they feature in Lockyer's volume accompanied by an etched print apparently taken from an old postcard.
It was a great privilege to physically stand before the site (sight?) I had read about years before and which would have been so inaccessible to the 19th century writer.
Beth & I loved the approaching walk along the promenade, swallowing mouthfuls of the fresh sea air and watching a hawk swerve inland clutching a silvery catch. As is always the case with these things, the rocks were smaller in reality than I had imagined but I can at least claim the wild exaggeration of Lockyer's illustration as having given me false expectations. I wondered if the engraver had ever visited the site which he so painstakingly scratched out of metal. However it was a powerful sight all the same - the marriage of the two rocks somehow more meaningful for their humble size - and many Japanese had decided to spend their national holiday celebrating their union.
We were, however, far too late for the rising sun and try as I might, binoculars in hand, I scoured the distant hills without success. I am beginning to think Mt. Fuji does not exist at all.
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