The Ise Grand Shrine – Naiku the Inner Shrine
After visiting Geku, the outer shrine, I went to visit Naiku, the inner shrine, or also known as the Ise Grand Shrine for it is considered the holiest shrine of Shintoism.
Like Geku, you have to cross over a wooden bridge first in order to reach the premise of the Shinto gods and goddesses. The shrine actually sits next to the Isuzugawa river which has crystal clear water. I couldn’t resist my temptation to touch it. For me, this river enhances the idea of purity for the shrine.
Then you will reach the tiny wooden houses that gods and goddesses are enshrined. In Shintoism the gods and goddesses are actually not enshrined in the grandest buildings but they live in small simple wooden houses. These houses are rebuilt every 20 years to symbolises the cycle of death and rebirth in nature.
The most important wooden structure of all is supposed to have the spirit of the Amaterasu the goddess of the sun and the a mirror known as the Yata no Yagami, one of the three imperial regalia of Japan. The imperial regalia can only be viewed by the Emperor himself and the highest ranking priest and priestess. Amaterasu is probably one of the most important Shinto goddess because it is belief that the Japanese Imperial Family is descended from her. The shrine also has a white horse, which is belief to be the preferred mean of transportation for Amaterasu. Therefore the white horse represents the connection between the earth and the heaven.
I actually bought a small white porcelain horse from the store inside the shrine to back to Tokyo with me.