JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


Most viewed - Ise 伊勢市
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Meoto-Iwa Wedded Rocks off the coast of Futami-cho, Ise city, Mie Prefecture. 夫婦岩992 views
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The shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko and Ukano-mitama. Sarutahiko is a god which serves as a pathfinder guide. Deities for land/sea transportation safety. 二見423 views
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Futami Okitama Shrine does not have a main hall (Honden) like most other shrines. It worships the Okitama Sacred Stone in the ocean beyond the Wedded Rocks. 二見興玉神社389 views
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The Wedded Rocks are part of Futami Okitama Shrine known for frog sculptures. 二見興玉神社357 views
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The Wedded Rocks are actually a type of torii gate for worshipping the Okitama Sacred Stone in the ocean.328 views1 comments
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Map of Ise Jingu's Naiku Shrine. First you cross Uji Bridge.294 views
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Wedded Rocks with a new rope. Japan has numerous other Wedded Rocks and stones, but this is by far the most famous.280 views
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Map of Naiku at Ise Jingu Shrine and adjacent area.276 views
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Five ropes are being positioned and made taut.274 views
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All the while, the cheering section chants and wave streamers.268 views
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The frog is Sarutahiko's messenger. Frog is called "kaeru" in Japanese, which is a homonym for the another word meaning "return home." If you travel a lot, pray here for a safe return. 夫婦岩256 views
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Replacing the rope for the Wedded Rocks, Mie Pref.254 views
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Close up map of Naiku. An adjacent plot next the shrine is for the next rebuilding of the shrine. The current, 20-year-old Naiku shrine is on an adjacent plot of land.244 views It takes 8 years to rebuild the Naiku shrine. So 12 years from now, they will start the rebuilding process all over again. Numerous ceremonies are held for this rebuilding, but only a few of them can be seen by the public.
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The ropes are now completely cut, breaking the bond between the two rocks.237 views
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The job is finished.233 views
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The torii on the larger rock is quite small. The sacred rope is replaced three times a year on May 5, September 5, and at the end of December.230 views
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The rope installers return to shore.225 views
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Men carry spanking-new shimenawa ropes to the rocks.218 views
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The men begin to cut off the old rope. Those sharp sickles soon made short work of the old sacred ropes which were brought ashore in small pieces.217 views
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The new ropes are strung across the two rocks. A small rope tied to the end of the large rope is used to pull the large rope up the rock.212 views
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5月5日、9月5日と12月下旬には夫婦岩の大注連縄の張り替え神事が行われる。これらの写真は5月5日に撮影された。205 views
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Ise Jingu Shrine's Naiku (Inner Shrine) is the main and most popular shrine at Ise. The shrine is rebuilt every 20 years and 2013 will mark the completion of the new shrine to replace the old one built in 1993.202 views
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The ceremony attracts a large crowd.195 views
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The shimenawa rope actually consists of five smaller ropes. They cut the ropes one by one.191 views
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The shimenawa rope bonding the Wedded Rocks is replaced three times a year. May 5, when these photos were taken, is one of the days when they replace the rope. First, they gathered at the shrine at 10 am for a 30-min. prayer ceremony.184 views
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Pieces of the old rope. Anyone could take home the pieces of old sacred rope if they wanted.181 views
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Lantern and sunset at Futami Okitama Shrine178 views
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Ise Jingu shrine maidens look the same as any other shrine maidens. They are likely college students hired just for New Year's to sell goods.178 views
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Making sure that the rope is aligned and positioned correctly.162 views
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One by one, the men carefully positioned the new sacred ropes on the two Rocks. All the while, young children and young men are chanting on the shore.161 views
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Sunset at Futami Okitama Shrine. In the old days when traveling was a hazardous undertaking in Japan, pilgrims who traveled to worship at the Ise Grand Shrines prayed here for a safe return home.158 views
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The second rope is installed.155 views
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The first rope is wound around both rocks.144 views
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The old rope is taken away.143 views
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The bottleneck at Naiku was this little torii which most people wanted to walk through at the top of the steps. People like me who didn't have time opted to go up the steps on the right side in no time. 137 views
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Entering Geku shrine at Ise.135 views
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Look how small the offertory box is at Ise Jingu's Naiku. The one at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is like half the size of a football field. Of course, Ise Jingu just doesn't have the space for it.127 views
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About 300-400 meters to the Naiku shrine, it got congested. It took about an hour to reach the foot of the steps going up to the shrine.126 views
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I wondered how much I should donate for this sake. I just dropped a 100 yen coin and probably got 20 yen worth of sake. At Atsuta Shrine (one of Japan's Big Three shrines) in Nagoya, they have a nice big hall where they serve hot tea and sweets for 126 viewsNothing like that here.
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Naiku shrine and torii are in sight at the top of the steps ahead. We were told that it would take more than an hour just to get up these steps. However, we could walk up the steps quickly on the right edge of the steps.121 views
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Ise manhole depicting Ise Jingu pilgrims. Mie Pref.111 views
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Collecting coins at Taka-no-miya Shrine 多賀宮.110 views
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Roof horns at Ise Jingu's Naiku.108 views
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Look how small the offertory box is at Geku.107 views
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It takes 8 years to rebuild the Naiku shrine. So 12 years from now, they will start the rebuilding process all over again. Numerous ceremonies are held for this rebuilding, but only a few of them can be seen by the public.107 views
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High walls prevent us from seeing the sacred shrine buildings of Naiku. Photography is not allowed inside these walls so don't try to use a long pole with a camera attached to take pictures. There are guards everywhere. 105 views
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Geku Outer Shrine at Ise Jingu.102 views
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Collecting coins.102 views
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Uji Bridge is made of hinoki cypress wood. The bridge columns are made of keyaki.89 views
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Ise-shi Station platform upon arrival on Jan. 1, 2013. Ise Jingu's Geku Outer Shrine is a short walk from this station.87 views
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Torii gate at Uji Bridge. Very crowded with New Year's worshippers going for hatsumode prayers.74 views
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Ise-shi Station with kadomatsu New Year's decorations.73 views
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People behind me.69 views
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Ise Jingu Shrine's Naiku is officially named, "Kotaijingu" (皇大神宮). It worships Amaterasu Omikami 天照坐皇大御神, the ancestor of the Imperial Family and the tutelary kami of the Japanese people. Naiku was founded 2000 years a66 views
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This is the steps leading to the new Naiku shrine that will be completed this fall 2013. The shrine buildings are already close to completion, but they are covered up.66 views
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On the steps going up to Naiku shrine. This was where it got ridiculous. Literally a snail's pace.65 views
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The people who went up the right edge of the steps didn't go through the torii and could only pray at a temporary, off-center position under the slim roof seen here on the right of the thatched-roof gate. 64 views
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Small offertory box.64 views
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We could easily proceed from Uji Bridge to this Daini (Second) torii. So far so good.63 views
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Horse stable.63 views
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Bamboo strips protect the trees.63 views
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Crossing Uji Bridge on the way back.63 views
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My video of Ise Jingu Naiku on Jan. 1, 2013.63 views
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Crossing Uji Bridge, a little over 100 meters long. 宇治橋62 views
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Naiku torii at the top of the steps.62 views
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After going through the torii, they could pray at this center position under this thatched-roof gate in front of the shrine.62 views
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Kaguraden hall for sacred dances and prayers. 内宮神楽殿62 views
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Uji Bridge showing its 20-year age.62 views
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Lucky bags.62 views
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Another place to purify yourself on the banks of Isuzu River at this place called the Mitarashi. 五十鈴川と御手洗場61 views
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Lot of people here, but it's still not as crowded as Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.61 views
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I could see the heatwaves from the people's bodies. Still inching forward.61 views
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We didn't get to go through the torii, but it wasn't worth the wait. They never explained the difference between staying in the middle of the steps and going up on the right edge.61 views
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The scene from the top of the steps. People on the right are aiming for the torii. People on the left are shooting up the steps in no time.61 views
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Taka-no-miya Shrine 多賀宮60 views
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White rocks to be placed at Ise Jingu Shrine for the rebulding.60 views
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Uji Bridge goes over Isuzu River. 五十鈴川60 views
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The other end of Uji Bridge also has a torii gate.60 views
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Before praying at the shrine, you're supposed to purify yourself. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth here. Use the ladle to pour water into your hand, then sip the water from your hand. Don't sip the water directly from the ladle. 手水舎60 views
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Dip your hands here in Isuzu River. Auto maker Isuzu was named after this crystal-clear river. 五十鈴川と御手洗場60 views
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Getting closer to the bottom of the steps leading up to the Naiku shrine.60 views
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The great thing for them is that they need not provide any guarantee that your hopes, dreams, and prayers will come true for you. No such thing as a product warranty nor money-back guarantee.60 views
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Taka-no-miya Shrine 多賀宮59 views
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Colorful bus at Ise.59 views
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Naiku's bottleneck. These people took at least an hour to climb up the steps to go through this little torii. So it must've taken them at least 2 hours to get here from Uji Bridge. Normally it's a 10-15 min. walk.59 views
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Brand new wooden torii.59 views
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Sanshuden rest house59 views
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Right outside the entrance Naiku is a long shopping street called Oharai-machi, mainly food stalls. it leads to a parking lot. Very crowded on New Year's Day.59 views
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Oharai-machi shopping street outside Naiku entrance. Bus stop for the train stations and Geku is near here.59 views
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A guard watching over the crowd crossing Uji Bridge.58 views
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Imagine providing a service or product for which you need not worry about complaints, defects, malfunctions, errors, or failures. And the customer base is guaranteed forever. 58 views
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Geku is Ise Jingu's Outer Shrine (officially named "Toyouke Daijingu"). It is one of the two main shrines of Ise Jingu. Geku worships the god Toyouke Omikami, who is responsible for the food of Amaterasu Omikami worshipped at Naiku.57 views
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Still walking at a good pace.57 views
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At the bottom of the steps going up to the shrine.57 views
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THe rest house had a view of a Noh stage.57 views
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Uji Bridge on the way back.57 views
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Isuzu River as seen from Uji Bridge. Water from this river is used in the shrine's ceremonies and rituals.57 views
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Dried fish.57 views
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Uji Bridge is also rebuilt every 20 years.56 views
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Barrels of sake as offerings.56 views
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There was a money box under both the thatched roof and under the slim roof structure next to it. Either way, you can still pray at the shrine. Not a big deal if you don't go through the torii or don't pray from the center spot under the thatched56 viewsIt really looked like the people going up on the right edge were exiting without praying at the shrine. Not so. They could also pray at the shrine, but at an off-center position.
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Snake souvenirs for sale. Major Shinto shrines make much of their income during New Year's.56 views
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People still streaming toward Naiku shrine passing through the second torii.56 views
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Water fountain where you wash your hands and rinse your mouth for purification. 手水舎55 views
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The first torii or Daiichi torii.55 views
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This is all we can see of the main shrine building called the Shoden (正殿), the home of Amaterasu. The design of the shrine buildings are especially beautiful and awe-inspiring. Too bad we can't see it. There are photographs (especially by Yoshio 55 views
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Shrine gift shop for amulets etc. Make no doubt, religion in Japan is very big business. They are in the business of selling hopes, dreams, prayers, ceremonies, and amulets. 55 views
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Much more popular than sake was amazake (sweet sake). This line was too long for me so I skipped it.55 views
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Tsuchi-no-miya Shrine 土宮54 views
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After crossing Uji Bridge, it is a gravel path to the shrine.54 views
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Place to dispose of old decorations bought from the shrine.54 views
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They served free green tea.54 views
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Ise Tourist Information across from the Geku entrance. Very helpful.53 views
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Before praying at the shrine, you're supposed to purify yourself. Wash your hands and rinse your mouth here. Use the ladle to pour water into your hand, then sip the water from your hand. Don't sip the water directly from the ladle. 手水舎53 views
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Kaze-no-miya Shrine is dedicated to the gods of wind and rain, essential for farming. 風宮53 views
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Tsuchi-no-miya Shrine worships the god in charge of the land around Geku. 土宮53 views
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Tsuchi-no-miya Shrine 土宮53 views
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Bus stop for Naiku Inner Shrine. This is near Ise-shi Station.53 views
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Inside Sanshuden rest house, a nice warm place to rest.53 views
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Water fountain where you wash your hands and rinse your mouth for purification. 手水舎52 views
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Shrine gift shop for amulets etc. Make no doubt, religion in Japan is very big business. They are in the business of selling hopes, dreams, prayers, ceremonies, and amulets. 52 views
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The great thing for them is that they need not provide any guarantee that your hopes, dreams, and prayers will come true for you. No such thing as a product warranty nor money-back guarantee.52 views
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After praying at Geku, most people also visit three nearby affiliate shrines: Kaze-no-miya, Tsuchi-no-miya, and Taka-no-miya. This is Kaze-no-miya Shrine. 風宮52 views
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Long line to pray at Taka-no-miya Shrine. "Taka" literally means "many felicitations." 多賀宮52 views
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Outdoor stage at Sengu-kan.52 views
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Side torii gate at Naiku.52 views
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Where the people coming and going converge at Ise Jingu's Naiku.52 views
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Sando path from Ise-shi Station to Ise Jingu Shrine's Geku Outer Shrine. A short walk. You're supposed to visit Geku before Naiku.51 views
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Sando path to Geku.51 views
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Taka-no-miya Shrine 多賀宮51 views
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Inside the bus going to Naiku from Ise-shi Station.51 views
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Bus with motif promoting Ise. Going to worship at Ise Jingu is called "Ise-mairi."51 views
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Way back.51 views
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A sip of sake at this booth. I saw no indications of a fee for this sake, but there was a donation tray right there.51 views
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I noticed that Geku was much less crowded than Naiku and apparently most people visit Naiku only. Lantern along the path to Geku.50 views
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The first or Daiichi torii gate.50 views
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A sip of sake at this booth.50 views
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Amulets forsale.50 views
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The shrine is rebuilt every 20 years and 2013 will mark the completion of the new shrine to replace the old one built in 1993. It takes 8 years to rebuild the Naiku shrine. So 12 years from now, they will start the rebuilding process all over again.50 views
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Taka-no-miya Shrine, old and new. 多賀宮.50 views
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A new museum called Sengu-kan to commemorate the shrine's rebuilding for the 62nd time (since over 1,200 years ago).50 views
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Sengu-kan Museum includes a scale model of the Geku shrine as well as a life-size facade of the main shrine building. Don't miss this museum. 50 views
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Path to Geku. 第一鳥居口参道49 views
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Geku Outer Shrine49 views
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Old ryokan inn.48 views
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Geku entrance. Toyouke Omikami is also the god for food, clothing, and shelter. Geku was founded about 1,500 years ago.48 views
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The new Geku Outer Shrine to be unveiled in Oct. 2013.48 views
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Adjacent pond.48 views
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Kaze-no-miya Shrine 風宮48 views
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Collecting coins at Taka-no-miya Shrine 多賀宮.48 views
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Ise-shi Station. 伊勢市駅48 views
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Kaze-no-miya Shrine 風宮47 views
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Magatama Pond next to Sengu-kan.47 views
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They are renovating the space in front of Ise-shi Station.46 views
 
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