Tourist spot in Shimane Prefecture

Izumo-taisha shrine [出雲大社]

Entrance gate to Izumo-taisha
Entrance gate to Izumo-taisha
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Approach to Izumo-taisha
Approach to Izumo-taisha

Izumo-taisha is a Shinto shrine located in the western part of Shimane Peninsula.

It is located about 10 km northwest of JR Izumoshi station.

The position is at the foot of the western mountains of Shimane peninsula and there is the Sea of Japan about 1.2 km west of the shrine.

Izumo-taisha is the highest Shinto shrines in Japan, excluding special Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture.

By the way, Izumo is the east part of Shimane Prefecture and the north part is Shimane Peninsula.
But, in the mythological age, Shimane Peninsula was a narrow and long island.

Entrance of the precinct of Izumo-taisha
Entrance of the precinct of Izumo-taisha
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Haiden of Izumo-taisha
Haiden of Izumo-taisha
Photo by

This shrine enshrines the great god Ôkuninushi.
Japanese myth has the follwing story.

Ôkuninushi was managing the land of Japan.

He had been thinking that Izumo was a small land.
And there was a long island to the north.

He fastened two ropes to Mount Sanbe (1,126 m, southwest of Izumo) and Mount Daisen (1,729 m, southeast of Izumo) in the mainland, and pulled the island using the ropes.

At last, the island was connected to the mainland and it became current Shimane Peninsula.
The former sea between the lands became Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi.

This continental drift is true as geology.
And the story continues.

There was a goddess Amaterasu-Ômikami in heaven.
She was an ancestor of Ôkuninushi and created the land of Japan.

She had seen the work of Ôkuninushi, so she thought that Izumo had to be managed by her children.
So she ordered him to transfer Izumo to her.

The negotiations were held and even a battle occurred.
At last, Ôkuninushi agreed.
Instead, a great shrine was given in Izumo.

It was Izumo-taisha.

It is said that Ise Shrine was founded for Amaterasu-Ômikami by her descendant later.

Haiden of Izumo-taisha
Haiden of Izumo-taisha

Honden of Izumo-taisha
Honden of Izumo-taisha
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There is a main approach lined with pine trees about 500 meters long.

The precinct is a square with a side about 200 meters long.
Three sides of the precinct is surrounded by low mountains.
The front mountain is Mount Yakumo and no one allowed to enter the mountain.

First, there is Haiden (拝殿) in the center of the precinct, and the visitors worship at this building.

The original building was built in 1519, but was destroyed by fire in 1953.
the current Haiden was rebuilt in 1959.

Generally manner of prayer for Shinto shrine is "Twice bowing, twice clapping and one-time bowing".
But, in Izumo Shrine, that is "Twice bowing, four time clapping and one-time bowing".

Honden of Izumo-taisha
Honden of Izumo-taisha
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Kaguraden of Izumo-taisha
Kaguraden of Izumo-taisha

Honden (本殿) is the main shrine and is behind Haiden.
It is surrounded by a low fence and the site is a square with a side about 80 meters long.

Honden was rebuilt in 1744, and is designated as a national treasure.
It is 24 meters high and is large as Shinto shrine.

Visitors can't enter the site, but can see the big building outside of the fence.

There is Kaguraden (神楽殿) to the west of Haiden.
It is a hall for ceremony and was rebuilt in 1981.

On the facade of Kaguraden, a great Sacred straw rope ("Ô-shimenawa" in Japanese) is set up.

It is the largest sacred rope in Japan.
The length is 13 meters and the weight is about 5 tons.

This is the symbol of this shrine.

O-shimenawa of kaguraden in Izumo-taisha
O-shimenawa of kaguraden in Izumo-taisha

Ema (Votive horse tablet) for marriage in Izumo-taisha
Ema (Votive horse tablet) for marriage

By the way, many coins are sticked into the sacred rope.
It is not known who did first, but they have been thrown as offering.

Shinto priest says, "Shimenawa is a sacred rope, so throwing coins to the rope is the same as desecrating the god".

You shouldn't throw any coin to the Shimenawa.

Izumo-taisha is the most well-known shrine as the god of the marriage.

It is said that many gods from all over the country gather here in October to hold the meeting about the marriage which the worshippers desire.

How to get here

By limited express of JR San-in Line, from Matsue to Izumoshi, about 25 minutes.

From Izumoshi station, Ichibata Densha railway is available.
To Kawato, about 11 minutes.
Then, transfer to the train to Izumo-taisha-mae, and about 9 minutes.
To the shrine, about 10 minutes on foot.

Or, from Matsue-Shinjiko-onsen to Izumo-taisha-mae, about 1 hour by Ichibata Densha.
(Matsue-Shijiko-onsen station is located about 1 km southwest of Matsue Castle.)

Or, by route bus, from JR Izumoshi station, about 25 minutes.
From Izumo Airport, about 35 minutes.

Ichibata Densha

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