Zuzana & Michal Czech couple
― CYCLING ACROSS JAPAN ―
Ise-Shima National Park
Going to religious places in Japan is a delicate matter for us as foreigners. On the one hand, we feel very humbled and try to be as respectful as outsiders can be. On the other hand, we are completely fascinated by the beautiful architecture, mystical monks, the very much alive customs and the general genius loci.
What we’re trying to say is that even though we don’t identify as buddhist or shintoists, both religions attract us and speak to us in some deep way. That’s why we were very much looking forward to visiting Ise Jingu.
Firstly, we explored Geku. The local kami, or Shinto deity, looks after good harvests and the general well-being of people. Enshrined in a divine palace, the kami are offered food twice a day by the monks in order to pray for the prosperity of the Imperial family and happiness of the world. What we found most unbelievable about Ise Jingu is that its two divine palaces are completely rebuilt every 20 years. So next to each current palace stands an empty plot, which works both as the previous and next location.
The main sanctuary, Naiku, was equally mesmerizing. We experienced ablution at Mitarashi, a right on the bank of the holy river Isuzugawa.
Energized by the meditative power of Ise Jingu (we touched a few trees to enhance the spiritual benefits), we left towards the southern coast to Zuzana’s favourite part of Japan. More about that next time!
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