Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture is an historically significant shrine and all gods around Japan gather here to conduct meetings once a year, based on the ancient mythology. With its unique history, Izumo Taisha is an unforgettable destination to spend one or two nights. Here are 5 great reasons to visit Izumo Taisha and make this your next holiday destination.
1. All Aboard the Sunrise Izumo Express!
Honestly, the best thing for me about visiting Izumo Taisha was boarding the Sunrise Izumo Express, which is the only sleeper train running regularly in Japan. Travelling by train from Tokyo to Shimane, which takes around 12 hours, is without a doubt the best way to see the Japanese countryside.
2. For Iconic and Photogenic Shimenawa (sacred straw rope)
Kaguraden (dance and music dedication hall) has one of the largest Shimenawa ropes in Japan, with a length of 13 meters and a weight of 4.5 tons. Shimenawa indicates a boundary line between the world of the Gods and the human world.
3. Traditions & The Way of the Vast Site
The grounds were so vast and we passed through several torii gates to visit the Main Hall and Kaguraden. My favorite place was the approach leading to the Matsu no Sando approach with a stream. The Matsu no Sando approach is the trail which divides into three lanes and is surrounded by pine trees. We are to refrain from walking in the center lane, which is the path reserved for the deities. The sacred atmosphere was impressive, the stream was so clean and we played together with some local children. It takes three hours to precisely see each building and statue on the site.
During the 10th lunar month (usually in November), Shinto Gods from across all of Japan gather at Izumo Taisha. In Izumo City, the 10th lunar month is called Kamiarizuki (month with gods) and at places other than Izumo we call it Kannazuki (month without gods). The most popular time to visit Izumo Taisha is November, to see the Kamiari Festival.
4. Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo
Although there are various opinions, the main building was said to be 48 meters tall in the 10th century. The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo has a wooden 1/10 scale model building which has an impressive appearance.
5. The Adachi Museum of Art
The Adachi Museum of Art was founded by Zenko Adachi who was born in Shimane and succeeded in business through the 1980’s. Adachi had a strong passion to collect Japanese arts, especially Yokoyama Taikan (a Japanese-style painter in the early 20th century) and designed his Japanese Garden to view both the artwork and the garden at once. In addition to the Yokoyama Taikan permanent exhibition of paintings, the Museum displays various other twentieth century artworks. What I like about visiting a museum holding a private collection, is that it allows me to see and appreciate an individual’s authentic sense to the arts.
How to get there
Izumi Taisha is a popular destination from Kansai and there are daily departing tours if you don’t have a vehicle. From Tokyo, fly from Haneda Airport to Izumo Airport (80 minutes) or take the Sunrise Izumo Express (an overnight sleeper train) from Tokyo Station to Izumo-shi Station (approximately 12 hours).