Izumo Taisha Shrine
History of the Shrine
East of Shimane Prefecture, the great shrine of Izumo or Izumo Taisha is dedicated to the Shinto God Okuninushi-no-Mikoto, creator and protector of medicine, sericulture and agriculture, who would have received it as compensation for another territory given to another God.
This would be the oldest shrine in Japan, in fact, its existence dates back to at least the seventh century. However, most of the current buildings date from 1668, and the main building from 1744 (which would be its 25th reconstruction).
The main shrine, with a height of 24 meters, is the reference of the Taisha Zukuri architectural style. However, it is said that there was a time when its size was 48 meters, a hypothesis reinforced by the discovery in 2000 of three wooden pillars 1 meter in diameter joined together to form a single pillar for a building that could have supported such a height.
If you are interested in the history and treasures of the shrine, we recommend you to visit Homotsuden Museum. In the museum, you can see the small model of the original shrine building of 48 meters high.
The most significant thing of the shrine is a big shimenawa. Shimenawa is a rope to cover the sacred area. The one in front of the Kaguraden is the biggest one in Japan. Kaguraden is used for the rituals and wedding ceremonies. The shimenawa here is 13 meters long and the weight is 5.2 kg. They replace to the new one every year.
You will also find the biggest Japanese flag. It is the size of 75 tatami (straw mat). They hoist it every day.
With gods and without gods
In Japan, October is called Kannaduki or the month without gods. It means that gods are absent in almost all the cities all over Japan except in Izumo. And in Izumo, they call October Kamiariduki or the month with gods. All the gods all over Japan get together in Izumo to have a meeting once a year.
The most important topic of the meeting is a marriage. They will talk who and who should get married. So Izumo Taisha is regarded as the shrine of marriage. Many young people who wish to marry often visit this shrine to have their future partner.
Access: Local bus from Izumo-shi (出雲市) station (JR Line) to Izumo Taisha (出雲大社). It takes about 25 minutes.
Entrance: You can visit freely. But you need entrance fee to the Museum (300 yen for adults / 200 yen for university and senior high school students / 100 yen for junior high and elementary school students. Open hours 8:30 – 16:30)
Hours: From March to October 6:00 – 20:30 / From November to February 6:30 – 20:00