(You have been warned: this is an image heavy post.)
Not far from Matsue is the city of Izumo, home of the second most scared of shrines in the Shinto religion. (Only the shrine in Ise is considered more scared.) As we were near, it seemed like we should go see the shrine.
Faded torii at the shrine across from our inn in Matsue (above), Matsue manhole covers (below).
I had studied Izumo Taisha in my Japanese Art course in the spring, and hubby and I had seen an exhibition on it at the beginning of the trip in Tokyo. We all piled into our friend’s car and headed to Izumo for the day. (That in itself was an adventure, having never really traveled on the expressways on Japan before.) Thankfully we left somewhat early, and were able to find a parking spot at the shrine. While off of the usual route for foreigners, Izumo is a huge tourist spot for Japanese. And for gods.
During the tenth lunar month (although they now celebrate it in October of the Gregorian calednar), it is believed that the 8 million Shinto gods from all over Japan gather at Izumo Taisha to discuss the upcoming year’s marriages, deaths, and births.
Above, an example of moral education that happens in Japan. Below, the ginormous flag near the shrine. (One doesn’t see a lot of Japanese flags in Japan. Perhaps it is perceived as being too nationalistic?)
One of the statues on the grounds outside the shrine. And the ladies’ toilet sign was suitably Heian period. (Or thereabouts.)
There’s not much to recount about visiting the shrine itself, other than the fact that the main building was closed for renovation. The shrine was raking in the money on the day we visited, as tour bus-load after tour bus-load of Japanese tourist were ushered around on a strictly controlled schedule. We, however, just wandered, photographing whatever caught our eye (that didn’t have a no photography sign). Below, some of the sights from the shrine.
Above, wish tablets. Usually, every shrine in Japan has a certain specialty; Izumo is known for marriages. Below, one of the outer buildings at the shrine. If the main shrine were open, you would go through this building to enter it.
Below, omikuji, or fortunes, tied to trees. I believe it’s the bad fortune ones that are tied to trees or other structures on the shrine grounds in order to mitigate the bad fortune. I think it’s a play on the word ‘pine tree’ (松, matsu) and the verb ‘to wait’ (待つ, matsu). The bad fortune waits by the tree or on the shrine grounds instead of traveling home with the person who drew it.
Strolling around the grounds, we came across a much-less frequented shrine to Inari, the fox god. There was an offering box with coins and pencils, so this one was probably related to success in exams or schoolwork.
The main shrine building, as much as we could see of it. Although, with the new archaeological evidence they’ve unearthed, it is woefully out of scale. Still, impressive and beautiful.
Photo op! With hubby being a sweetie and keeping the sun out of my eyes.
Needing a break, we headed outside the shrine to one of the several restaurants in the area. Not fabulous, but filling. And where I spotted this. White cook? Hm, I wonder what that contained?
After this, I think we were all about ready to head out, and head over to the beach, but our plans changed. We were approached by an elderly lady who spoke to us in English. She was one of the volunteer guides at the shrine, who simply wanted to share her knowledge with us, and practice her English at the same time. (It was pretty good, but sometimes it was good that we understood Japanese.) In any case, she took us to another part of the shrine grounds, where there was a festival in progress. In fact, the day we visited was the last day. We saw a cheezy video/live action performance of the myth of Susanoo descending to Izumo and slaying dragon Orochi. And we saw some kagura, I believe.
By then we were tired and it had started to sprinkle. Time to head to the beach.
Above and below, the beach at Izumo. We had to go dip our (shoed) feet into the Japan Sea. The beach was surprisingly dirty, with garbage washed ashore. It was pretty sad. Still breath-takingly beautiful, though.
After that, we headed back to Matsue for dinner and grabbed our backpacks from the coin lockers in the station. That’s where I snapped this poster about train manners.
Oh, and the (wallpaper) mural in the party room attached to the boys’ room at the inn. I don’t know what battle it depicts, but I’m sure someone would know.