Meoto Iwa – Ise, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Meoto Iwa

This pair of small sea rocks has been "wed" using rope and ancient Shinto tradition. 


Located just off the shore of Futami, Japan, a pair of oceanic rock stacks have come to represent a holy union that created the spirits of the world in the Shinto faith. 

The two rocks, known as Izanagi and Izanami respectively, are together called Meoto Iwa and are connected at all times by a thick rope that tethers the lovers together. The stones are seen as a representation of paired dualities, hence the outcroppings have gained nicknames such as the “lover’s rocks” and the “wedded rocks.” 

Physically, the stones are not remarkably large, with the larger of the two (Izanagi) standing just nine meters tall and the smaller one (Izanami) just over three meters. However, the key feature of the site is the shimenawa, a thick rope made of rice straw that has been braided in a specific way that is sacred to the Shinto religion. The huge rope wraps around both rocks and is said to weigh at least a ton. The cord is continually eroded by sea water and the elements, but it replaced three times a year in a special ceremony.

Meoto Iwa is also near to a Shinto food shrine in which frogs are an important symbol, so in addition to the calming wonder of the wedded stones, visitors are also surrounded by curious looking frogs.       

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December 23, 2015

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