A red Tori gate marks the forest trail that leads up through a dense forest where a shrine seems to hide among the rocks and trees. Here, in the Mitsuishi Shrine where three stones and three rituals wait for you to improve yourself and also wish for love or connection.
Ichinoiwa (The First Stone)
The first stone has a deep pit where, it is believed that sticking your head into the pit will actually improve your IQ! It can be a bit scary, but it’s definitely worth a try. Who knows, you might invent something spectacular with your new and improved high IQ level!
Ninoiwa (The Second Stone)
A mysterious source of spring water drips down the side of this stone, making it seem as though the rock is crying real tears... Its waters have long been believed to improve eyesight. Long ago, people thought that touching the water from this stone to one’s eye would improve eye health and eyesight. However, this ritual may be best left in the past since it might not be 100% sterile. Still, it is interesting to visit, touch the water and think of the past.
Saniwa (The Third Stone)
The third and final stone is the connection or love rock. The stone is porous and full of holes; the trick is to find a set of holes that make a tunnel so that you can stick a string through. You can get strings from the visitors’ center or bring your own and try to find a place to tie up a 5-yen coin.
Some single people who are looking for love or connections will come in the middle of the night with a flashlight and spend hours search for a place to tie their coin! If you are lucky you might discover an unclaimed tunnel in the stone where you can tie up a 5-yen coin for good luck in the love and connection department. Whether you are a believer or not, it’s a lot of fun to poke around looking for a place to tie your coin. If you fail to find a spot you can always tie in the same spot as someone else, or tie your coin on the shrine’s rope.
The short hike to and from the shrine is absolutely gorgeous, but a bit steep in places. Be sure to wear shoes that are easy to walk in. Through a clearing in the tree line you can look down and see the town below. If you time your visit right, you can even watch the small local train roll by.
Mino kasa Experience
You can hike the trail in normal clothes, but, if you are feeling adventurous… I recommend renting a mino kasa, that is an old fashioned rain coat. Mino kasa like the one I am wearing in the photo are becoming increasingly rare in Japan. As craftsmen die out and no one takes their place, fashions like this risk fading into the panels of history. So I hope that when you visit you will rent one to take photos and walk to the shrine in. The people in the area are very friendly and if they see someone walking around in a mino kasa, you are sure to bring a smile to their faces! After all, the greatest joys of traveling are connecting with the local people.