Walking on Drift Ice
Japan doesn’t lack for shrines, but perhaps none can claim to be as ancient and sacred as Shimane’s Izumo Taisha. Appearing in some of Japan’s earliest recorded mythologies, this venerable site is said to host a once-annual gathering of the gods—a tradition which is believed to continue even to this day.
The tenth month of Japan’s old lunar calendar is traditionally known as Kannazuki, which can be translated to Month of No Gods. This is because—as the tales have it—the gods leave their local residences to congregate in Izumo, the Land of the Gods, where the same month is known as Kamiarizuki¬, or Month of the Gods. Chief of all deities enshrined at Izumo Taisha is Okuninushi-no-Okami, who governs the Land of the Gods and also is the patron deity of en-musubi, the Japanese concept of tying together destinies.
Visitors to Izumo Taisha are sure to be struck by a profound connection to Japan’s ancient and mystical past, and to feel the spiritual energy of the natural world, with powers far beyond the grasp of mortals. With elaborate festivals occurring throughout the year paying tribute to the gods and pray for good health and fortune, it’s the premiere destination for any traveler looking to get in touch with Japan’s roots.
From Izumo Airport, take the bus to JR Izumo-shi Station (about twenty-five minutes). From there, take the Ichibata Bus Line to Izumo Taisha (another twenty-five minutes). Buses are also available directly from the airport to Izumo Taisha.
Hours: The temple grounds open at 6:00 a.m. (6:30 a.m. from November to February) and close at 8:00 p.m.
Address: 195 Taisha-cho Kizukihigashi, Izumo, Shimane 699-0701
Airport: Izumo Airport