Geku, Ise Jingu Shrine, The 1st Shrine to Visit
GEKU, The 1st Shrine to Visit in Ise Jingu Shrine
Geku (外宮, 豊受大神宮, Toyouke Daijingu Shrine), is a big shrine dedicated to the goddess, Toyouke Omikami. With just a few minutes walk from the Ise-shi Station, it’s one kind of a gateway to the whole Ise Jingu Shrine.
Ise Jingu, the Ise Shrine, is famous for the Naiku (内宮, 皇大神宮, Kotai Jingu Shrine), but actually, “(Ise) Jingu” is a general term for all the 125 shrines that are related to the Naiku.
This Geku is the 2nd important shrine in the Ise Jingu. (Ise Jingu itself is the most sacred shrine in Japan.)
In a proper way, it’s said that you should visit Geku first, and then visit the Naiku. So if you have time, make a visit to the Geku, and feel the grace of the gods.
Geku (Toyouke Daijingu Shrine) Information
- Website: Ise Jingu http://www.isejingu.or.jp/foreign/index.html
- Opening Hours: – 5:00 am to 5:30 pm – January and February
Opening Hours - 5:00 am to 6:00 pm – March and April, September and October
Opening Hours – 4:00 am to 7:00 pm – May till August
Opening Hours – 5:00 am to 5:00 pm – November and December
- Admission Fee: free
- Access: 279 Toyokawa-cho, Ise city, Mie Pref.
7 minutes walk from JR/Kintetsu Ise-shi Station (伊勢市駅), or 10 minutes walk from Kintetsu Uji Yamada Station (宇治山田駅)
- Precinct Map: http://www.isejingu.or.jp/foreign/map/index.html (English, Chinese, Korean, French, German and Italian)
Visiting the Shrine, Pictures and Explanations of GekuPictures from the main entrance:
The main entrance is located straight forward from the Ise-shi Station.
There aren’t so much visitors as in the Naiku. Sumo demonstration will be dedicated to the gods in April, so we can see many flags. (The sumo will be held at Jingu Kaikan or Jingu Shinen)
After you cross the Hiyoke-bashi (a bridge over a brook to prevent fire spreading), you can see the Temizusha (a place to purify your hands and mind). Washing your hands is a simplified purification method to do before you visit the gods.
Japanese sake barrels are offerings to the gods.
The 1st Torii Gate
Slightly bow when you go through.
A path towards the main buildings, the 2nd torii gate.
The day I took these pictures was a rainy day, but still, we can feel the spiritual atmosphere from the sacred forest.
Kaguraden (神楽殿), a hall for prayer, Shinto music and dance. You can buy charms here.
You can see 3 stones surrounded by sacred straw ropes. It’s where the priests purify themselves. It’s said that in the past, there was a river to purify at here. The river disappeared by the crustal change caused by the earthquakes, but the purification custom remains. People says you can feel special energy if you touch the stones, but since we can’t, we can just wonder and imagine about its sacred energy.
The broad ground next to the main building is called “shin-mishikichi.” It’s an alternate site for the new divine palace, when it’s renewed in every 20 years (Shikinen Sengu).
Far away from the front, we can see a little sacred building standing alone in it. The building stocks the Shin-no-mibashira (心御柱), the fundamental column for the shrine.
The Main Sanctuary
The main building enshrines the Toyouke Omikami, the guadian deity of industries, harvests, clothing, food, and shelter. She was the provider of sacred foods to Amaterasu Omikami (the goddess of the sun, the chief deity of all the gods in Japan, enshrined in the Naiku).
So at here, you should say thanks and pray about your ordinary life.
By the way, the front side of the gods are considered very sacred. So you shouldn’t take pictures from the front of the shrine. The walls surrounding the shrine is also very sacred, so many sakaki branches are tied on the walls. You shouldn’t touch them, too. (Well, actually, the whole shrine is a sacred place, so taking pictures in other places is also not recommended though.)
On your way back, there are other shrines dedicated to the god of the wind, or the god of the grounds, or Taganomiya Shrine that enshrines the aramitama (the wild spirit) of Toyouke Omikami.
Or, if you were lucky, you may see the two sacred white horses.
Also, there are the Sengukan (the museum of Shikinen Sengu) and the Magatamaike Pond.
Free tea or water is available, and you may take a rest on a bench.
The street between the shrine and the Ise-shi Station is called Omotesando, and you can find many stylish souvenir shops and restaurants. Omotesando is very interesting place, too, so I’ll introduce about that next time.
Feel free to contact me if you need any further information about Ise or tours around Nagoya.