Japan and its history through the cigarette case scenes Meoto Iwa

Meoto Iwa [夫婦岩], or the Married Couple Rocks, are two rocky stacks in the sea off Futami, Mie, Japan. The rocks are a few tens of meters off the coast. The left large rock about 9 meters high is "husband", and the right small rock about 4 meters high is "wife". The larger rock has a small torii at its peak.

A kirihame zogan cigarette case depicting the Married Couple Rocks.

They rocks are joined by a shimenawa (a heavy rope of rice straw) and are considered sacred by worshippers at the neighboring Futami Okitama Shrine [二見興玉神社]. According to Shinto, the rocks represent the union of the creator kami ("spirits"), Izanagi and Izanami. The rocks, therefore, celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman. The five connecting ropes, which are 35 meters long, 10 centimeters in diameter and weight 40 kilograms each, must be replaced three times a year (in May, September and December) in a special ceremony.

At dawn during the summer, the sun appears to rise between the two rocks. Mount Fuji is visible in the distance. At low tide, the rocks are not separated by water.

Top: "Women Worshipping the Rising Sun between the Twin Rocks at Ise", a tryptich by Kitagawa Utamaro, (1803~1804). Bottom: a cigarette case by Yoshihisa [芳久] (from Chris Penry's collection).