One wish for every female
One of the highlight of my Japan trip last year was to see the Ama divers at Ise. They are ladies whose average age is about 65 and they free dive without any oxygen tanks. Ise has the largest concentration of Ama divers, and traditionally the Ama visit the Shinmei Shrine to pray for protection.
The Shinmei Shrine is also known as the Ishigami San, and it is located on the top of a small hill which is about 5 minutes walk away from the car park. Like all Japanese shrines, you should cleanse yourself when you arrive. There is a ritual to do this, and if you’re not sure how to do it, there’s normally instructions nearby. Failing that, just watch what the locals do.
There is a series of torii gates after you walk pass the main entrance. Torii gates are an essential part of Japanaese shrines and signifies the entrance to the sacred area. The further you walk through these gates, the more sacred the area you are venturing towards.
This is the main building of the Shrine. I peeped inside and it looked like it was the main praying area and there was an office as well. It didn’t look as interesting as the other buildings, mainly because it was so new. I think like all other religious buildings, the beauty lies in its history.
It is said that the goddess at the Shinmei Shrine grants one wish to every female. That’s why it is very popular with the Ama divers as their work is very dangerous. This is the goddess’s shrine, and it looks new as well. I think they must have rebuilt it in recent years as I saw some photos on internet from two years ago and it looked different. I wished they had left it as before. The actual goddess, or rather her soul or spirit depending on how you look at it, is still the same. She is enshrined in a 60cm small called Ishigami San, that’s why Shinmei Shrine is also known as Ishigami San which means stone deity.
Shinmei Shrine isn’t very large. In fact I think I’ve show you all the buildings including the one below which from memory is the only one they didn’t rebuild. All in all I spent about 20 minutes here. It may be a small shrine, but over the years it has been and still is an integral part of Ama culture. Hopefully it will continue to protect the Amas in the years to come.