Ise Jingu or the grand shrine of Ise city of Mie prefecture is the biggest among the shrines of Japan. A lot of people visits this shrine, especially during the New Year season. There is a river called the Isuzu river in front of the shrine area over which the Uji bridge is constructed.
Crossing this great bridge, we will be reaching the shrine grounds. People used to do the purification by washing their hands and mouth in the river, even though the purification trough is situated upon crossing this bridge. The shrine is located in a forest and there are a vast garden and lush greenery all around this area. It is not just a single shrine. There are a lot of small shrines and temples in this woody place. Including the two main shrines, there are 125 shrines in total which is collectively known as the Ise Jingu. Apart from all these shrines, a lot of big trees situated here are also worshipped by the people. The main shrine is situated at a distance of about one kilometer from the entrance. The main shrine building is located far apart. The vast area of the shrine is extended to a long distance and there are places to walk around peacefully in the holy shrine atmosphere.
The main two shrines are called the Naiku and Geku. Geku is the outer shrine with the God Toyouke residing inside. Toyouke is the god of shelter, food and clothing. The inner shrine named the Naiku is dedicated for the Sun diety Amaterasu omikami. Most of the temple structures and buildings are made in the traditional Japanese style.
The buildings of the shrine are built in a way similar to the rice granaries of ancient Japan. Every year an event called Kannamesai is held in the month of October to thank the God for the good harvest of the year. The first harvest of the year is made as an offering to the shrine in this event conducted by the Imperial family.
One of the most important peculiarity of this shrine is that the important buildings are reconstructed every 20 years in the adjacent plot of land and the deities are transferred into the new building in a ceremony conducted after completion of the reconstruction. It is called Shikinen Sengu. The thatched roofs and the unpainted wooden structure are maintained in every reconstruction. The old woods of the temple building reused for the construction of its Tori gates and some of them are given to other shrines of Japan for their reconstruction purposes. The museum named Sengukan museum at the entrance of the Geku provides the information about the rebuilding of the shrine. There is a small replica of the entire shrine kept in this museum.
There are some statues kept at parts of the temple where people used to throw money as offerings. Also in the Isuzu river some people used to make offerings in a similar manner. During the New Year, it is hard to reach the temple premises due to the crowd. The shrine provides its New Year visitors with a small doll of different animals every year. We have to make some small offerings in the shrine to receive it. It varies every year and there are 12 different states in total. Upon making a 12 consecutive New Year visit to this shrine, we could collect all the 12 different Ningyo and it is believed to bring good luck and happiness in our family and entire life.
Ise Jingu Official Website