Divine Inspiration at Izumo Taisha
Step off the beaten path and onto sacred grounds in rural Shimane
The Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine in Shimane Prefecture is one of Japan’s oldest and most important Shinto shrines. It is visually famous for its classic shrine architecture and the huge shimenawa sacred rope that marks a dwelling place of the gods. The shrine is dedicated to Okuninushi, a deity associated with marriage and relationships.
The shrine dates back at least to the Kojiki, the ancient chronicle written in the early eighth century. The current shrine buildings, however, were constructed in 1744 and are designated a national treasure.
The highlight of the year is the Kamiari Festival, which takes place over the course of a week, usually in November. This is when the eight million gods of Japan gather at the shrine to hold matchmaking discussions. Unlike most festivals in Japan, it is a somber affair so as not to disturb the meetings.
Note to shrine visitors: Prayers here are conducted with two bows, followed by four claps—as opposed to the usual two claps—and one bow.
195 Kitsukihigashi, Taisha-cho, Izumo-shi, Shimane-ken