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Meoto Iwa Study I


The Meoto Iwa rocks, in English "The Wedded Rocks", are located in front of the Futami Okitama shrine in Mie prefecture, along the east coast of the Ise peninsula, Japan. More precisely, near the city of Futami, about 15 kilometers from the famous Ise Shrine, one of the most important shrines in the country.

According to tradition, these rocks symbolize good luck for marriages and represent the sacred union between husband and wife.

For the Shinto religion, the two rocks represent the divinities Izanagi (husband, the highest rock) and Izanami (wife, the lowest one), the gods who, according to the ancient mythological text of the Kojiki, with the help of a spear called Amanonuhoko (the Heavenly Halberd of the Swamp), raised the lands from the ocean and created Japan.

The two rocks are joined by a rope of rice straw called Shimenawa, which is replaced once a year in January with a ceremony. There is also a small Torii gate at the top of the largest rock.

During the summer solstice, we can admire the sunrise between the two rocks. And it is for this reason that this sacred place is also linked to the sun goddess Amaterasu, to whom the great Shinto shrine of nearby Ise is dedicated.

For my photography, I planned the visit to have high tide conditions. In my case, I had to wait until late afternoon. Indeed, the two rocks are not separated at low tide, and taking a long exposure photograph would not have been very attractive.

The weather conditions were perfect for a black-and-white shot. Little wind, calm sea, sky with delicate veils, and a pale sun now setting that made the shadows soft.

This photograph is a 150-second long exposure, taken at 6.50 pm Japan time on June 1, 2010.

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