Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hidden Shrines of Ise - 1

A local man of Ise, Mr. H and I planned to make a trip to visit secret sites. We met at the parking lot of Gekū. He says, “Well lets see… where shall we go.. hmmm… Lets go to a place most people wouldn't know.” There was an entrance behind the parking lot of Naikū. There was a small shrine close to the entrance. He said it is Uji Shrine. An Uji-gami, a regional god who protects the Naikū region, resides at this shrine. The shrine has another name “God of Feet.” Mr. H said that a famous marathon runner comes to this shrine before his race.

We went further deep inside the forest tracing the source of Isuzu River. When we were passing the shrine, I sensed a presence of a strong fox spirit. Unfortunately, today wishful prayer business is thriving and the real purpose of the shrine is hidden. But according to Mr.H, this shrine has been here even before the establishment of the Naikū and has been a sacred place for the local people of Ise. Some people say that this shrine could be the original Ise Shrine. At this point, my Kenzoku-shin, a retainer god, reacted. So I decided to pay a visit to this shrine on the way back. The road becomes very narrow from here. This whole area is a sacred land. Only the local people and the priests are allowed to enter. The road was very narrow but there were quite a few local people driving down the road. It took quite a skill to pass by. The land around the Isuzu River was once owned by the Ise Shrine, but after loosing the WWII it was controlled by the GHQ and later sold to the commoners.

The river became narrower as we went further up. What surprised me was the size of the rocks. In this narrow river, there were numerous rocks in the size of a house. I have never seen such a place. Giant rocks are called Iwakura (磐座) where god spirits reside. The rocks hold the memory of the electro-magnetic energy of the god spirits. The bigger the size the more it can hold the energy. I feel that one of the reason why Amaterasu-Ohomikami chose this place, Ise, as the central sacred land is because of its geological formation. I would assume that many giant rocks as big as a house exist under Naikū and Gekū. And those rocks could hold an immense amount of energy of the god spirits.

After observing the giant rocks, we returned to Uji Shrine. At the main shrine, the name of the worshipped god was stated on a board. However, there were other names of a historically famous people written on 30 poles next to the god’s name. That was a little bit awkward for me.

When I went to the front of the main shrine and looked up to the small mountain behind it, I felt the shinki (神気), a sense of the divine. I would assume that this small mountain is made out of one giant rock. I could see in the ancient times, people used to worship all of these giant rocks as Iwakura. The rumor about this shrine being the original Naikū may well be true.

We continued our journey to go to another hidden shrine. (to be continued)

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live

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