Today (March 5) we went to 外宮 (Geku, “Outer Shrine”), the second major shrine of Ise Jingu. Geku is dedicated to 豊受大御神 (Toyouke-no-omikami), the goddess responsible for preparing food for Amaterasu-omikami, and of agriculture and food in general. All English sources I’ve seen until now emphasize the general part, but the Japanese around here usually mention the “food for Amaterasu-omikami” first. A dual-language brochure on Ise Jingu which we got on the first day actually switches the emphasis between Japanese and English text. 😉
Sadly, the rain put a damper on my hopes of getting good photos, but on the plus side it supported the smell of the forest surrounding the shrine. I really love the smell of forest and wet earth.
Like the ones at Naiku, the shrine buildings at Geku are reconstructed every 20 years in a ritual called 遷宮 (Sengu). However, thanks to the different layout without stairs in front of the main shrine, we could walk directly by the still standing old buildings. If you compare the images above and below, you can see how the wood changes over time.
Also like Naiku, photography behind the entrance to the inner shrine area was prohibited, but once again the layout is similar. A low fence separates the publicly accessible area from another square, with a gate that people can approach (but not cross) to pray. The inner sanctuary is surrounded by another wooden fence, but at Geku it is lower than at Naiku and has some gaps, so you can actually catch a glimpse of the inner shrine buildings.
The statue above is part of an exhibition we saw in Futami on Monday, and was labeled as Toyouke-no-omikami. Knowing that we’d visit her shrine, I saved the photo for today.
Just next to the shrine is せんぐう館 (Sengu-kan), the Sengu museum. It focuses on the techniques used to construct the shrines at Ise Jingu and how items used there are made. The shrine buildings at Ise Jingu are made from wood, without using even a single nail. It’s quite impressive the see how the necessary parts are made and assembled. Taking photos was prohibited inside the museum, though. Around the time we left the museum, the rain finally stopped.
Afterwards we had some time to walk around town before meeting again for dinner with program staff and volunteers. I saw a bus with a drawing based around the Married Rocks of Futami (center in the photo below, they’re yellow and orange).
In a small alley with food places, some cats were resting in an apparently comfy box.
And finally: 伊勢市駅 (Ise-shi Station). The way from the station to Geku is really simple: Leave the station, walk through the torii, and then just keep the direction. 😀