Sunday, September 27, 2009

Silver Week Part Two - Izumo (with Weekly Winners)

Weekly Winners, hosted by Lotus.
Click pics for better looking larger images.

I've been away from Weekly Winners for far too long, and I've missed participating. Since it's Sunday here and Sunday there, and I have pictures to share, the timing works. No promises I can get back into the old Sunday routine for good, but I can this week, and I want to try to make a point of it more often.

Picking up where I left off last time in my Silver Week travels, next, on the way back to the Izumo train station after the lighthouse (and still long before I'd checked into my hotel and still carrying my backpack), I stopped at the awesome Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine (出雲大社). (Another good link is here.) Japan loves to rank places, and apparently this is the 2nd most important shrine in all of Japan. It's also the oldest and largest shrine still in use in Japan. Now you know. It's also my favorite shrine so far. We'll get to that in a bit.

Across the Street
Saturday, September 19, 2009 (still, long day)
I wasn't sure which way to go when I got off the bus (it runs between the train station and the lighthouse with stops along the way, including Izumo Taisha), so I wound up across the street from the actual shrine. With the power of the internetz, I now know that this was actually the Anscestral Shrine (祖霊社) part of (I think) the main shrine.

Soba Noodles
(Approaching Izumo Taisha Shrine)
The banner in the left is for Izumo Soba, a local way of doing soba noodles. I had some at the little restaurant up by the lighthouse when I had time to kill waiting for my bus, and it was really good.

Izumo Taisha Shrine
The shimenawa, straw rope, is the largest in Japan. It's 13 meters/43 feet long, and apparently, it weighs 5 tons. I'm still wrapping my mind around that.

Tossing Coins
Here's where I think this shrine is cool. For lots of folks, this shrine is about having a happy marriage. To that end, people try to toss coins into the shimenawa (rope) for good luck.
Also, when praying, instead of just clapping twice like at normal shrines, people clap four times, once for themselves and once for their partner (or hopefully a future partner).

Got Lucky
A little hard to see, but here are the coins that stuck.

I always love these wooden plaques with prayers written on them. Always. Since this is the go to shrine for love and marriage, it's no surprise that the ema reflect that.

Shrines sell strips of paper with fortunes written on them, and if you get an unlucky one, then you can tie it to a tree or to the place where everyone else tied theirs. Basically, the bad luck will stay there. I like these almost as much as the ema tradition.

Izumo Taisha Shrine Torii
Coming from the bus station initially, I think I kind of entered backwards, so instead of seeing this first, like a normal person would, I actually saw it last as I was leaving and heading to a smaller train station that would take me to the bigger train station that would take me to my hotel.
Strange conversations in fast Japanese ensued at that little station about how it would take a ridiculously long time to get to where I was going if I took the little train because of how train schedules don't match up well, which seems kind of not so genius to me, just saying. So, opting out of the taxi that the older guy at the station was recommending, I managed to instead get lucky enough (without even praying for it at the shrine) to get on a bus that did, indeed, get me to the station and one step closer to putting down my backpack (contents comprised mostly of my laptop, which kept gaining weight somehow the longer I carried it).

So, I got to the hotel (and hour away, in Yonago - 米子, because it's the only place in the area I could find an available room), and I kind of laughed that the older woman behind the desk kept referring to me as gaijin-san instead of by, um, my name. That would be like calling someone Ms. Foreigner Lady. I was too exhausted to be anything but amused. As a huge bonus, if I borrowed a modem from the front desk, I could haz internetz in my room. It was joyous. I wound down with a warm shower and a cold beer, ready to wake up early for the next day's adventure in one of my now favorite cities, Matsue. Those pictures, next post.


  1. The straw rope is amazing! I'm with you though, I like the fortune ties too! What great shots!

  2. Different cultures always amaze me - thanks for sharing. LOVE the rope, and the fact that coins are tossed into it is fun.

  3. Glad to see back at WW. Love the straw rope and the fortune ties.

  4. Love the strips of paper (fortunes) shot. I'm dying to pull one off to read it :)

  5. The straw rope is incredible. The ema and fortune strips are intriguing. I like the idea of leaving the bad fortunes behind. I love all your local photos.

  6. I love the shot of the fortune ties! That is so cool :)

    And the prayer plaques. Those are so neat!! I want one :D

  7. WOW! I had no idea how massive the rope was until I saw the show of it from afar. Holy moly it's huge!

    I love the photos of the plaques and fortunes.

  8. hmmmm soba.... hmmmmm. How I would love some now! I've yet to find it here in the states. Real soba. Not that prepackage crap they 'call' soba. hmmmm.......

    Love your photos Maggie. I know it's a lot of work, but I SO appreciate it!


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