Located in the city of Izumo at the foot of the Yakumo and Kamiyama Hills, Izumo Taisha is one of the oldest and most important shrines in all of Japan.
The exact dates of Izumo Taisha’s construction are unknown but records show that it was definitely already in existence as early as the 700s. The main shrine at Izumo Taisho is dedicated to a Shinto deity; Okuninushi-no-kami who, according to legend, was the creator of Japan and the ruler of Izumo. Okuninushi-no-kami also became known as the deity of good relationships and marriage and visitors to the shrine clap their hands four times during their prayers instead of the standard two: twice for themselves and two for their partners. The two oldest books in Japan – Kojiki (the Legendary Stories of Old Japan) and the Nihon Shoki (the Chronicles of Japan) state that the shrine to Okuninushi-no-kami was the largest wooden structure in the country until 1200 AD with a height of around 50 metres. Unfortunately the shrine was destroyed in a fire in around 1200 and when recreated it was built to only 25 metres high. The main shrine there today dates back to 1744 as previously Izumo Taisha had been periodically, completely rebuilt up until that year, but from this point renovations, rather than complete rebuilds, have been carried out around every 60 years with the most recent having occurred from 2008 to 2013.
When approaching the shrine visitors will first pass through a giant torii gate and then a shopping street before reaching a wooden gate which is the entrance to the actual shrine grounds. The trail then divides into three lanes and visitors are asked to avoid taking the centre lane as this path is reserved for the deities. From here visitors will reach a bronze torii gate which is the entrance to the main shrine grounds where visitors can see the beautiful Worship Hall and then the Main Hall. The Main Hall, along with a few smaller shrine buildings are surrounded by fences and are not accessible to the general public although several other shrine buildings can be seen when walking around the fences, including Jukusha which is said to serve as accommodation for the annual meeting of the eight million deities.
The deities are said to meet at Izumo Taisha every year from the 10th to the 17th day of the 10th lunar month (usually November). During this period the Kamiari Festival is held at the shrine. This is one of at least fifteen major festivals held at Izumo Taisha with others including the Imperial Festival, the Grand Festival and the Omike Festival.
Izumo Taisha can be reached by either train or bus from Izumoshi’s main railway station.
|Type of Activity:||Religious & Spiritual|
|Activity:||Pilgrimages & Celebrations|