Temples & Shrines: Izumo Taisha Shimane
Izumo Taisha 出雲大社
Izumo Taisha, also known as Izumo Oyashiro, is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan having existed on its present site for 1500 years.
The current buildings date from 1744 and the main building (honden) is also the largest shrine structure in the country. One of the shrine's presiding kami (gods) is Okuninushi, the deity of marriage and visitors here often come to pray for luck in finding a partner.
Many temples and shrines in Japan become associated with particular benefits and beliefs, Tenmangu shrines for success with exams, shrines and temples for blessings for cars, Izumo Taisha is associated with finding marriage partners. Visitors to the shrine are said to clap four times when praying at the shrine, twice for themselves and twice for a prospective partner.
Outside the main hall of worship, the Oracle Hall, are massive straw ropes - shimenawa - good fortune falls on those who can toss a coin that lodges in the cut ends of the ropes.
Also on the grounds is a Treasure Hall - a small museum of historical artifacts including a silk map and an illustration of the shrine in its heyday, when Izumo Taisha was the tallest building in Japan at 48m, taller than Todaiji Temple in Nara.
Izumo Taisha is 8km outside Izumo city in Shimane Prefecture and can be reached by train to Izumo Taishamae on the Ichibata Line from the terminals in Izumo city, or Matsue. The tourist office (Tel: 0853 2100) is just outside the main torii gate to the shrine on your left.
Izumo Taisha Access
Izumo Taisha (in Japanese)
Tel: 0853 53 3100
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