Translated by Tomoka Aono
Izumo Taisha - Find Your Match At The Shrine Where The Gods Gather
Written by Maki
Izumo Taisha in Shimane prefecture is the oldest shrine in Japan as it is mentioned in the oldest Japanese book, the Kojiki, or "Record of Ancient Matters". Home to the god of marriage and of fortune, this shrine is also known as a power spot!
Izumo Taisha located in Izumo, Shimane prefecture, is one of the most ancient Shinto shrines in all of Japan, with a history that has been recorded in one of the oldest history books in Japan, the Kojiki (古事記, "Records of Ancient Matters").
Izumo Taisha is dedicated to the god of nation-building, Okuninushi-no-okami, and it is said that, if you visit the shrine, you will have great luck when it comes to your love life and personal relationships. This shrine has been worshipped since ancient times as the gathering place of many deities.
In this article, we will discuss more of the sights to see at Izumo Taisha.
Start from the Torii
Seidamari is the name for the plaza where the great wooden torii stands, which serves as the entranceway to the sacred grounds of Izumo Taisha.
After passing through this gateway, a downhill stone slope surrounded by trees leads you to the main shrine building.
There is a small shrine along the way. It is called Harai-yashiro, which is where you pray to cleanse your body and mind before you visit the main shrine of Izumo Taisha.
Walking Amid Beautiful Pine Trees
The iron torii is surrounded by tall pine trees that are hundreds years old. In order to protect these ancient trees, visitors are not permitted to walk through the central pathway, so please walk on the pedestrian lanes on either side of this area.
After you go through the pine trees, you will find the temizuya, or ritual cleansing place where you must stop and wash your hands and mouth.You can learn how to use this properly by referring to Things You Don't Often Hear: How to Worship at a Shrine.
You can find this statue of Okuninushi-no-okami, who is the Shusaijin (*1) of Izumo Taisha on the other side of the temizuya. This is the deity that is responsible for success in love and marriage and in blessed connections between people.
*1 Shusaijin: as many deities may be enshrined in a single Shinto shrine, this is the term used to refer to the main god of that shrine.
Quiet Main Shrine with Sacred Atmosphere
After you cleanse your hands and mouth, you can step into where the shrine pavilions are. When you go through the copper torii, you will see the haiden or front shrine, where visitors in general pray.
At Izumo Taisha, the method by which visitors pray to the gods is different from that of other shrines.
First, you must bow twice, then clap your hands four times, pray, then give a final bow afterwards.
Just beyond the haiden, you will find the gohonden, or main shrine, where Okuninushi-no-okami resides.
If you would like to pray for luck in love or relationships, first think of your name and address, before addressing your prayer in your mind to the god of the shrine.
The main shrine is enclosed inside the yatsuashimon gate, with only a portion of its roof visible. The main shrine was built using one of Japan's oldest shrine architectural styles, the Taisha-dzuki method, and has been recognized as a Japanese National Treasure.
Feel the Mystical Atmosphere and Meet the Gods of Japan
Within the grounds of Izumo Taisha are several spots related to Japanese myths.
Jukyusha is said to be the location within Izumo where the various deities gather and stay during their visits to the area.
Under Japan's old calendar, October was the month wherein the various gods gathered together at Izumo and discussed marriage and other unseen or intangible events with one another. As all of the gods gather together at Izumo, outside of Izumo October is referred to as ‘Kannazuki’ (the month when the gods are gone) while in Izumo, it is called ‘Kamiarizuki’ (the month of the gods).
According to legend, Okuninushi-no-okami once saved a rabbit, which is why you will find many cute rabbit statues at Izumo Taisha.
Kaguraden (where the sacred kagura dances are performed), just outside of the west gate, is famous for its gigantic shimenawa (a Shinto woven straw rope meant to designate a sacred space).
The shimenawa is 13.5 meters long and weighs 4.4 tons, making it one of the biggest in Japan. You are sure to be surprised at the sheer scale of this straw rope.
Come to Visit Izumo Taisha!
At Izumo Taisha, you can find numerous different amulets, from charms for love, ones to help in finding your soulmate, omikuji to tell your fortune for the year and ema prayer boards on which to write your wishes - when visiting the shrine by all means please look for the talisman that best suits your needs.
What do you think of the atmosphere and tales regarding Izumo Taisha? This shrine is visited by over 6 million people each year, so if you need help making a match with someone, or want some guidance in your quest, please pay a visit to Izumo Taisha and see if the god can answer your prayers.