Meoto Iwa (Married Couple Rocks) in Itoshima, Fukuoka

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Just 30 minutes by car outside of Fukuoka is a quaint city called Itoshima. With a population of a little over 100,000, this coastal city has plenty of attractions and coastline cafes that make you want to settle down, buy a golden retriever, and spend your days walking along the beach as the sun sets. Itoshima is popular for its beaches in the summer and its oysters in the winter. But, perhaps its most popular attraction throughout the year is the great floating torii gate that rests in the Genkai Sea. A short ride down Shima sunset road and you will come across this wonderful attraction. Just behind the floating torii are two rocks called Meoto Iwa (not to be confused with the Meoto Iwa in Mie, Japan) that are eternally joined together by a shimenawa. The shimenawa is a Shinto rope used for warding off evil spirits and protecting the sacred areas that lie behind its ropes. This particular shimenawa is 30 meters long and weighs 1 ton.

Meoto Iwa, also known as Married Couple Rock, along with the floating torii attracts thousands of visitors to Itoshima every year. Sometime either late April or early May of every year, a grand ceremony is held to replace the one ton Shimenawa. This procedure requires 50 men to venture over to the rocks, climb them, and complete the arduous task of hanging the straw garland from one rock to the other.

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