What to do on a rainy day? Go to museums 😉 that’s what I did on the 5th of May when it rained without pause. I went to three museum, which all deal with the Ise shrines in one way or the other. The main museum is the Jingu museum which deals with the history of the shrine and the rituals performed there. Every single morning they cook a meal for the sun goddess consisting of rice, fish, veggies and fruits. They even have a sacred rice field where the rice for the sun goddess is planted. Much of the shrine life revolves around the fact that is is being torn down and renewed every twenty years. Although it’s quite obvious, I failed to realize for some reason what the empty spaces next to the shrine buildings are for. They are for the next round of shrine buildings. For twenty years the shrine stands on the left half and the right half is empty, then the right half is built and for a very short time there are two shrines next to each other, then the goddess moves and the old half is torn down. In order to do this, plenty of crafts are necessary, which are thus being kept alive.
There were five visitors in the Jingu museum and in the Jingo art museum next to it I was the only visitor. It had some paintings of Japanese artists and also a few kimonos and katana and pottery items on display. The final museum I visited was the Sengu museum next to the outer shrine that has a mock up of the main shrine, which normal mortals are not allowed to see and more info about its construction and a very nice model of the main shrine complex. If you happen to be in Ise for a longer time and if it rains, those museums are a good way to spend your day 🙂
Luckily I had glorious weather for my last day at Ise and went by bicycle once more to the inner shrine in the morning. Then I wondered how to get to the Meoto rocks again and decided to try by bicycle as well instead of taking the train. It turned out to be a fabulous bicycle ride through mostly flat terrain and in total I rode some 25 km that day. The rocks looked lovely in beautiful weather and with a calmer sea. There was still a fair amount of people around, but less than during the golden week holidays of course, which was another bonus. All in all it’s been a wonderful trip to some holy sites full of history and I can definitely recommend Ise and it’s surroundings if you haven’t traveled there yet. I’m planning to go back there in 12 years! In 2033, to see the shrines wandering to their neighboring free fields 😉