You’ve heard of Hakata, Tenjin, Dazaifu, and maybe even Yanagawa – but another of Fukuoka’s hidden gems is the Itoshima peninsula. This two-part Itoshima series will cover both its Sakurai Futamigaura Couple Stones and its Genkai-Quasi National Park.
In particular, this article will go over the history and tale of the Sakurai Futamigaura Couple Stones, and its accompanying Sakurai Shrine.
Sakurai Futamigaura Meoto Iwa
Standing about 150 meters from the beach, two giant rocks joined by a shimenawa rope—straw rope used at many Shinto shrines indicating a divide between the sacred and the secular—earn the gasps and coos of admiration by visitors on sandy beaches. When the tide is high, the two rocks seem to almost be floating on the surface of the sea, unmoving, with only the thick rope swaying between them. Framing these rocks is a majestic, all-white torii gate, and standing right in front of it provides you with a picturesque view of clear waves crashing against the rocks and gate, while they stand unperturbed.
Announced as one of the 100 most beautiful sunset views and one of the 100 best beaches in Japan, many visit this spot for the out-of-this-world experience of watching the sun set between the Futamigaura Couple Stones. However, this spot is more than just a feast for the eyes. The rocks are a symbol of happy marriage. The two rocks are said to represent deities from Japanese mythology, Izanagi and Izanami, with the shimenawa symbolizing the union and connection between these two Gods. Both the view and the history and meaning attached to this spot are romantic, making it an often-visited spot by couples and families.
The Sakurai Futamigaura Meoto Iwa is considered a part of the Sakurai Shrine, located only a 5-minute drive away from each other.
The sprawling shrine grounds are home to a large number of beautiful shrines and structures dating back to hundreds of years ago. Surrounded by nature on all sides, visitors are bound marvel not only at the well-maintained, mystical structures of worship, but also how they exist in perfect harmony with the numerous tall cedar trees that are interspersed throughout the grounds.
In particular, the giant cedar forest that leads to a nondescript area of the shrine, that houses the Sakurai Daijingu Shrine—a portion of the grounds separate from the main shrine that houses portions of two deities, Amaterasu Omikami and Toyouke Omikami—is particularly impressive. With paths lined by giant cedar trees reminiscent of those found in the Old Tokaido Road, the most impressive of trees within this small forest is said to have be over a hundred years old, with its trunk around four times the circumference of a normal cedar trees, with large roots the height of a regular adult.
Only an hour and a half away from Fukuoka’s city center, Itoshima is a must-visit hidden gem in Fukuoka prefecture. Home to more than just Sakurai Shrine and its accompanying Sakura Futamigaura Meoto Iwa, the North-Eastern part of the island is host to other iconic photo spots and unique experiences, and is bound to fill up a half-day itinerary with ease.
Traveling around Itoshima by car would be the most efficient way to take in all the island has to offer, but getting around by renting a bicycle or simply taking the bus is also possible. Include Itoshima in your plan the next time you’re in Fukuoka!