Last week we went to Ise Grand Shrine, which is the most important and revered Shinto temple in Japan. I still haven’t sorted out the pictures from there, but while we were there, we visited the Frog Shrine as well.
The Frog Shrine (Okitama-jinja) technically is not in the town of Ise. It’s actually located in Futamigaura, a small town near Ise known for its fishermen.
Futamigaura is more famous as the place where you can see Meota-iwa, or the Married Rocks.
They are two rocks in the ocean – a big and a small one – which are connected with sacred ropes. The ropes are made from braided rice stalks. The visitor reached them after walking on a narrow road along the seashore. Many Japanese enjoy spending hour watching those rocks. Especially popular is to watch the sunrise in summertime, when the sun comes out of the ocean between the rocks.
According to the legends and the traditional Japanese religion, the rocks represent Izanagi and Izanami, who were the married god and goddess that founded Japan.
However, I found the Frog Shrine much more interesting. The frog is considered the patron god of the local fishermen. As you may know, fishing with boats is not the safest profession in the world. At this shrine the fishermen’s wives prayed for the safe return of their husbands while they were out in the ocean.
That was the reason for choosing the frog as a patron – the word for it in Japanese – kaeru – sounds in exactly the same way as the word for “return.”
As it is customary in all shrines in Japan, at the entrance you can see a fountain (in the picture at the top), where you can cleanse your mouth and hands – it is a common ritual before entering the shrine.
There is also the obligatory shop, where you can buy talismans supposed to bring you happiness, wealth and prosperity. You can also get those small wooden plates in the picture above and write on them your wishes, which should come true.
The stone and metal frogs are the most interesting part of the shrine. They are scattered around the entrance and also along the seashore road.
Commissioned by different people or provided as gifts to the shrine over many decades, they come in different sizes, shapes and expressions.
Here are two that have baby frogs:
Another one is made from bronze:
People even leave money near the frogs for good luck:
Here is a rough looking frog:
This appears to be quite old:
And this was the smallest one I could find:
And here we have a whole group:
All in all, it was quite an interesting experience to spend a few hours among those frogs. The only odd thing was that I didn’t see a single live frog in the whole area.
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This one looks like a recent addition: