Today, we woke up and went to Izumo Taisha. Izumo Taisha is a shrine in Izumo, a city in Shimane Prefecture. It is considered the oldest shrine in Japan, and it is one of Japan's most important shrines. The main deity of the shrine is Okuninushi no Okami, who, according to mythology, was the creator of the land of Japan and ruled Izumo. Since Okuninushi was also known as the deity of good relationships and marriage, many visitors come here to pray for success in these aspects of life.
First, we went through the large torii gate at the very entrance of the shrine and walked around the grounds, seeing a statue of Okuninushi as we made our way to the entrance. We purified ourselves before going to the main hall, which consisted of using a ladle to wash our hands and mouths with very cold water. After we entered, we came across the worship hall, which is decorated with a massive straw rope, which is called a shimenawa. Shimenawa are indicators of the presence of a deity and separates divine space from the mortal realm. Behind the worship hall was the main hall, which is the tallest shrine in Japan, standing at 24 meters tall. We went to the front of the main hall and tossed some leftover yen we had into the box that sat at the entrance and said our prayers. At Izumo Taisha, the praying style is two bows, four claps, and then one more bow, as opposed to the usual style of two bows and two claps at other shrines.
There were a few more smaller shrines surrounding the main halls, including a treasure hall and the Jukusha, which served as the lodgings for the eight million deities for their annual meeting. We stopped off at a stall and bought some omikuji, and then went to a gift shop and bought some souvenirs and snacks. Overall, I had a great time at Izumo Taisha. I'll admit, shrines and temples aren't usually my thing, but I really enjoyed visiting Izumo Taisha. It was in such a beautiful area and learning about the history of the shrine and the mythology behind it was really interesting. If you ever get the chance to come to Shimane Prefecture, I highly recommend that you take time to visit Izumo Taisha.