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one of the oldest shrines in Japan – Izumo Taisha

an excerpt from our camping car trip in 2018

Our trip to Izumo Taisha Shrine located in Shimane prefecture took place early October 2018, when the longest and hottest summer gradually started to loose force, surrendering itself to the next season, the fall.

Izumo Taisha Shrine is considered the oldest shrine in Japan, in existence in the early 700s as revealed by the nation’s oldest chronicles; and has always been my ‘must see places in Japan’. The access is about a 820 kilometers drive from Tokyo, a 9 hours non-stop drive according to the Google Map which we managed to achieve in our first day of our trip.

The majority of Japanese endeavor to see Izumo Taisha, as according to our history, Izumo used to be ruled by a powerful clan in pre-historic times, and plays a central role in Japan’s creation mythology. The main deity (kami) enshrined at Izumo Taisha is Okuninushi no Okami and according to the creation myths, Okuninushi was the creator of the land of Japan and the ruler of Izumo. He also became known as the deity of good relationships and marriage. 

As you enter a large wooden torii gate, this marks the entrance to the actual shrine grounds. The approach uniquely leads downhill for a few dozen meters, leading to the Matsu no Sando where the trail is divided into three lanes by two rows of pine trees. Visitors are to refrain from taking the center lane, as it is said to be the path reserved for the deities.

Upon reaching the main shrine, Worship Hall (Haiden), there are giant straw ropes called shimenawa that resemble anacondas coiled around a tree branch. They represent the separation between the mortal and supernatural worlds. It is the largest in Japan, measuring 13 meters and weighing five tons.

Every year, from the 10th to the 17th day of the 10th lunar month, Shinto’s eight million deities from across the land gather at Izumo Taisha for a meeting. 

October 10th, 2018. All the Shinto gods (kami) from Japan gathered here at the Izumo Taisha Shrine (like a Shinto God summit). The god housing is seen in the center photograph.

Early morning. Entering the divine area, the shrine; non-accessible to tourists.

The old Taisha Railway Station.

NOTE: Historically correct explanations has been referenced from the Japan Guide. com

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