Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩), or Married Couple Rocks, are a kind of rock formation seen as religiously significant in Shinto. They are a subtype of Iwakura rock.
According to Shinto, the rocks represent the union of the creator kami, Izanagi and Izanami. The rocks, therefore, celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman.
The most famous pair is the pair at Futami Okitama Shrine in Futami-ura, two rocky stacks off the coast from Ise, Mie, Japan. They are joined by a shimenawa (a heavy rope of rice straw) and are considered sacred by worshippers of the shrine. The shimenawa, composed of five separate strands which each weigh 40 kilograms, must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony. The larger rock, said to be male, has a small torii at its peak.
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.
Okitama Shrine is dedicated to Sarutahiko Ōkami and imperial food goddess Ukanomitama. There are numerous statues of frogs around the shrine. The shrine and the two rocks are near the Grand Shrine of Ise, the most important location of purification in Shinto.
The couple rocks at Futami Okitama Shrine in Mie Prefecture Ise City have been known for a long time, as depicted by Ukiyo-e artistin the Edo period, and are generally used as a symbol and prayer for "marital bliss and domestic safety", "maritime security and great catch". It is also a symbol and prayer for "marital bliss and domestic safety", "maritime security and a good catch of fish", and is said to be a symbol of Iwakura Shinko in Kojindo, which means a symbolic place or object in Nature, especially megaliths, rocks, and mountains, were considered Shintais and believed to be places where Kamis resided. For this reason, shimenawas and toriis were decorated as proof that a deity resided there (kanzumaru).
It is also an embodiment of the concept of the two sides of the same coin that pervades ancient Shinto and current shintos, such as the idea that this world consists of Utsushi-yo and Tokoyo, and the Seven Lucky Gods of Ebisu and Daikoku, two of the Seven Lucky Gods, are believed to be one, and the counting of chopsticks and footwear as one set or one pair is also said to be unique to Japan.
In the Kojiki, there are many Myths about married couples, from Izanami and Izanagi to Sarutahiko Ōkami and Ame-no-Uzume. It is thought that these became Sai no Kami and Dosojin, and were connected with the belief in a rock formation. This is why Jizos and Dōsojin are often depicted as a couple or as a pair of large and small rocks or stone statues. This kind of belief in married couples has spread throughout the world over time and has become familiar in the form of married couple's bowls, etc. At the same time, it is deeply related to the belief in child-rearing and child-bearing in the framework of family, such as householder and home. The 'Iwana' are deeply related to the belief in child-bearing, child-rearing, and the treasure of children.
These ideas of rock-building belief, Omote-Taiwanai and matrimonial belief (also called matrimonial harmony, which is the basis of ancestral spirit belief) are combined to form the object of enshrinement at the couple's rock.
An example of an oshimenawa is Tateishi in Futami Towne, Ise City, Mie Prefecture. The large shimenawa rope connecting Tateishi and Nejiriwa, known as "husband and wife rocks," is believed to be the torii (gateway) to the offshore Kohtama Shrine stone, and is reattached three times a year in December (before the New Year), May, and September. During the shimenawa-renawa-renawa-renawa-renawa-renawa-renawa-renawa ceremony, a woodcarving song is sung, and some people take pieces of the old rope home as a good-luck charm for marital bliss.
American composer Roger Reynolds took reference to the form of Meoto Iwa in Futami, where he visited in 1966, while composing the first movement "Futami ga Ura" of his second symphony, "Symphony [Myths]" (1990). Divided into 3 sections, the first and the last with "densely stratified texture" represent Izanagi and Izanami rocks respectively, and the middle section represents the space in-between.
The National Married Couple Rocks Summit Liaison Council has been formed by 10 tourist spots in Japan that have married couple rocks or rocks for married couples, and is holding the National Married Couple Rocks Summit.