Showing posts with label Izumo Taisha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Izumo Taisha. Show all posts

Friday, November 9, 2012

Passing by Taisha

From Temple 2 of the Izumo 33 Kannon Pilgrimage to temple 3 is over the Kitayama Mountains which form the spine of the Shimane Peninsula. The shortest route take me right through Izumo Taisha passing by this shrine, the Izumotaishakyo Soreisha. It was founded in 1882 which if I am correct is the same date that Izumotaishakyo was founded by the Senge in what is known as the "Pantheon Dispute". As a soreisha the shrine enshrines the ancestral spirits of the Senge family, the hereditary priests of Izumo Taisha.

Izumo's distinctive "fat" shimenawa are everywhere to be seen...

Including, of course the Kaguraden, home to the biggest shimenawa in the world.

Though it is called a kaguraden the buildings main use is for conducting shinto weddings and as Izumo Taisha is the most sought after destination for such ceremonies there are a continuous stream of weddings taking place just about every day....

I noticed for the first time that there is a group of three hondens to the rear of the kaguraden.... have yet to search out the identity of the kami enshrined therein......

Monday, May 24, 2010

Izumo Taisha


The grand torii on the road leading to Izumo Taisha, often called the second most important shrine in Japan, and often claimed to be the oldest shrine in Japan. While the first claim is debateable, the second is pure fantasy.

According to the ancient chronicles, a "palace" was built here by the Yamato to thank Okuninushi for giving Japan to them. As this happened before the Yamato descended from heaven, and as history in Japan begins with the Yamato in the same way that some believe the history of America begins with Columbus, therefore this must be the first shrine in japan.

One legend has it that the shrine was first built in the mid 7th Century. That sounds reasonable to me, as that was when several shrines were built in the Izumo area by the Yamato "emperors".


Though few question that Okuninushi is enshrined here, there is a reasonable doubt. In the sixteenth Century all buddhist buildings and images were removed from the shrine. At that time the records of Gakuen-Ji were consulted. Until this point Gakuen-Ji had administered the shrine, and the temple records go back further than the shrines. The temple records say it was Susano enshrined here. Since the beginning of Yamato hegemony over this part of japan there has been a continuous process of denigrating Susano and elevating Okuninushi.


What is undisputed is that the Honden of Izumo Taisha is the biggest in japan. The current one, constructed in 1744 is 24 meters high, but Heian period documents claim it was double that height, making it the tallest building in Japan at that time. This height was long believed to be exaggerationm but in 2000 excavations revealed the bases of huge pillars made by strapping three pillars together. In front of the entrance to the shrine is a small museum with models of what this original structure may have looked like, and at the nearby Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo there are more models . Apparently the tall structure was not based on sound engineering and it repeatedly collapsed until about the 12th Century when its reduced size was settled on.


Running alongside both sides of the main shrine are two rows of small shrines. These are "motels" for the kami. Once a year, in the Fall it is said that all the kami of Japan meet up here in Izumo. They don't meet at Ise, and they don't meet in Yamato.

Actually all the kami don't come. It is said that Ebisu doesn't come, even though his home shrine is nearby, because he is deaf and doesnt hear the call. Other kami make all kinds of excuses not to come..... too busy, cant afford it etc. I have heard of a shrine in Wakayama that holds a matsuri celebrating that their kami doesnt go.


Next to the main shrine is the Kagura Den, adorned with the biggest shimenawa in the world. If you visit here chances are that you will see a wedding. I've heard it said that Izumo taisha is the most desired location for weddings in japan.


The groom certainly does not seem very happy. Maybe he just got the bill.

In early-modern times Okuninushi became known as a matchmaker, and now lots of young people come to Izumo Taisha to pray for a spouse.

Every time I've been there young women have outnumbered young men by a factor of 3 or 4.


In the main compound, alongside Okuninushi, are enshrined Suserihime (Susanos daughter who Okuninushi married), Tagirihime (another daughter of Susano, one of the 3 Munakata princesses, and Kisagaihime and Umugaihime, 2 female kami who resurrected Okuninushi after he was killed by his 80 brothers. All female kami.

Behind the main compound is the Soganoyashiro, a shrine to Susano.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The biggest shimenawa in the world


The biggest shimenawa in Japan, and therefore the world, is located up in Izumo at the great shrine of Izumo Taisha.


It adorns the Kagura den, located next door to the shrine proper.


It's more than 13 meters in length and weighs somewhere between 5 and 8 tons.


A new one is constructed every 3 years.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (inside)

One Day in Izumo9714

The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo is a large and excellent museum. Unfortunately photography is not permitted in the galleries!

The main collection is composed of several themed galleries. The first looks at the history of the grand shrine of Izumo Taisha. In 2000, excavations at the shrine revealed the base of 3 huge pillars that confirmed the old records that said the shrine rose to a height of 50 metres, making it probably the tallest wooden building in Japan, if not the world. There are paintings, artifacts, and models showing how the shrine looked.

One Day in Izumo9701

The next section deals with the Izumo Fudoki. Fudoki were gazeteers compiled in the early 8th Century at the request of the fledgling central government in Nara who were solidifying their control over the Japanese islands. The Fudoki contained information on the geography, history, and folklore of each province. Only the Izumo Fudoki has remained intact until the present-day, which goes some way to explaining why Izumo's traditions remain strong.

The main section deals with bronze implements, swords, and other ceremonial and grave goods. The centrepiece is one huge display case covering an entire wall that contains 358 bronze swords and 358 replicas of how they appeared new, before spending 1500 years buried in Kojindani. Before their discovery in Kojindani, there had only been 350 such swords discovered in all of Japan, a strong indication of the importance of Izumo in ancient times before the rise of the Yamato. Also on display are dotaku (ceremonial bronze bells), an ancient Chinese mirror, believed to be one of Himiko's mirrors, and the remains of an iron sword engraved with kanji which is believed to be the earliest known example of writing in Japan.

One Day in Izumo9692

Other galleries feature exhibitions on more recent Shimane history, Iwami Ginzan, and Izumo's ancient myths.

Entrance to the museum is a mere 600yen, and if you are a foreigner there is a 50% discount. Free digital audio guides are available free and give details on some of the exhibits in seceral languages.

One of the best museums I've visited in Japan!

Outside the Museum