DescriptionIse Grand Shrine (伊勢神宮 Ise Jingū?) is a Shinto shrine dedicated to goddess Amaterasu-ōmikami, located in the city of Ise in Mie prefecture, Japan. Officially known simply as Jingū (神宮?), Ise Jingū is in fact a shrine complex composed of a large number of Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, Naikū (内宮?) and Gekū (外宮?).
Bird view Area of the Jingū(Naikū)
The Inner Shrine, Naikū (also officially known as "Kotai Jingū"), is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise City, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu-ōmikami. The Outer Shrine, Gekū (also officially known as "Toyouke Daijingu"), is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke no ōmikami, the deity of agriculture and industry. Besides Naikū and Gekū, there are an additional 123 Shinto shrines in Ise City and the surrounding areas, 91 of them connected to Naikū and 32 to Gekū.
Bird view Area of the Jingū(Gekū)
Purportedly the home of the Sacred Mirror, the shrine is one of Shinto's holiest and most important sites. Access to both sites is strictly limited, with the common public allowed to see little more than the thatched roofs of the central structures, hidden behind four tall wooden fences. The high priest or priestess of Ise Shrine must come from the Japanese imperial family, and is responsible for watching over the Shrine.
The two main shrines of Ise are joined by a pilgrimage road that passes through the old entertainment district of Furuichi. The region around the shrines consists of the Ise-Shima National Park and numerous other holy and historic sites including the "wedded rocks" (Meoto Iwa), and the Saiku (the site of the Heian period imperial residence).
From the late 7th century, when the festivals and offerings of Ise Shrine became more formalised, a number of annual events have been performed at both Naikū and Gekū. The Tsukinamisai, which was held in June and December, as well as the Kannamesai in September, were the only three offerings performed by the Saio, an imperial princess who served as high priestess of the shrine until the 14th century. These offerings are based on the cycle of the agricultural year and are still performed today.
The first important ceremony of the modern calendar year is the Kinensai, where prayers are offered for a bountiful harvest. Kannamesai, where prayers for fair weather and sufficient rains are made, is held twice a year in May and August at both Naikū and Gekū.
Autumn Kagura Festival.
The most important annual festival held at Ise Shrine is the Kannamesai Festival 神嘗祭. Held in October each year, this ritual makes offerings of the first harvest of crops for the season to Amaterasu-ōmikami.An imperial envoy carries the offering of rice harvested by the Emperor himself to Ise, as well as five-coloured silk cloth and other materials, called heihaku.
Besides the agricultural ceremonies already mentioned, ceremonies and festivals are held throughout the year at both Naikū and Gekū to celebrate such things as the new year, the foundation of Japan, past emperors, purification rituals for priests and court musicians, good sake fermentation and for the Emperor's birthday. There are also daily food offerings to the shrine kami held both in the mornings and evenings.