Photo By: OZinOH
Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Matsue
Population
761,499

Izumo Taisha Shrine

Delve into the land of the Gods and pray for your future soulmate at Shimane Prefecture's most holy site.

When in Izumo, it’s customary to do two things: eat the soba noodles the area is famous for and visit Izumo Taisha Shinto shrine.

The shrine is one of Japan’s oldest, as well as a top destination when in Shimane Prefecture. Many of the buildings at the shrine complex reflect the indigenous Taisha-zukuri style, the oldest architectural tradition in Japan. Almost completely surrounded by mountains, the atmosphere here is sacred and serene.

Photo by: かがみ~ A towering torii gate at the entrance.

The giant straw ropes called shimenawa that resemble anacondas coiled around a tree branch are Izumo Taisha’s most famous feature. They represent the separation between the mortal and supernatural worlds. In fact, the shimenawa at the Kagura Hall at Izumo Taisha are the largest in Japan, measuring 13 meters long and weighing five tons.

What’s with all the rabbits at Izumo Taisha?

The main worship hall, where the Shinto deity Okuninushi is enshrined, is fenced in to divide the sacred from the everyday space. Built in 1744, this hall is the tallest in Japan, at about 24 meters. But it’s what lies behind the cherished building that catches most visitors’ attention.

Photo by: Jesse Ramnanansingh Rabbit statues at Izumo Taisha. So cute!

At the back of the hall, there’s a cluster of cute rabbit statues! The rabbits are important to this shrine because of their connection to Okuninushi. Japan’s sacred text of creation stories, the Kojiki, tells a legend about how the god rescued a white rabbit from being eaten by sharks. Delight in the different personalities, quirks, and poses of each one as you walk through the shrine grounds.

At the nearby museum you’ll find Japan’s largest collection of excavated bronze swords and bronze bells, and learn more about the history of the holy Izumo region.

A shrine dedicated to matchmaking

Photo by: Jesse Ramnanansingh Pray to find your future mate.

The ritual for praying at Izumo Taisha is slightly different than at other shrines around Japan. Instead of clapping twice as you usually do at a Shinto shrine, at Izumo, you clap four times—twice for yourself and twice for your current or future partner.

Many young Japanese girls come to the shrine to pray for luck finding a future husband. Okuninushi is the Shinto god of marriage and good relationships, after all.

Dancing Demons??

Oda shimane Kagura
This has made the shrine into a very popular wedding destination as well. In 2014, a member of the Japanese royal family, Princess Noriko, tied the knot here. You may spot a wedding or two during your visit if you’re lucky!

Close to the shrine is an entire street lined with restaurants and souvenir shops. Try regional specialties like Izumo soba, which is made from buckwheat seeds and served with grated daikon, nori (dried seaweed) and spring onions.

Shimane Prefecture has yet to reach tourists’ Japan bucket lists, but it’s well on its way.

 

Trivia

Oda shimane Kagura

Dancing Demons??

When in Shimane, you have to see a Kagura dance. This ancient performance art depicts fierce battles of harrowing demons and ferocious gods from classic Japanese mythology. Check out our guide for more info!

More

Things To Know

Nearby Sacred Beach

Located less than a kilometer and within walking distance from Izumo Taisha Shrine is Inasanohama Beach. The beach is home to a tiny shrine called Bentenjima which rests on a large rock in the ocean.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒699-0701 Shimane-ken, Izumo-shi, Taishachō Kizukihigashi, 出雲大社御本殿

By train

You can take the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Okayama and then change to the Yakumo limited express train for Izumo (six and a half hours). There’s also the overnight train that runs from Tokyo Station to Izumo known as Sunrise Izumo (12 hours).

By bus

Alternatively, you can get a bus from Izumo-shi Station straight to Izumo Taisha.

From Izumo Airport, take the airport bus to Izumo Taisha (35 minutes). 

By plane

The quickest way to get to Izumo is to fly from Haneda to Izumo Airport (90 minutes).

Where To Stay

Masuya Ryokan
  • Taishamachi Kizukihigashi 493 Izumo-Shi, Shimane 699-0701
  • 8.4/10
  • 0.5 km
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Takenoya Ryokan
  • Taisha-cho Kizukiminami 857 Izumo-Shi, Shimane 699-0711
  • 8.7/10
  • 0.7 km
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Izumo Hinomisaki no Yado Fuji
  • Taishacho Hinomisaki 588-1 Izumo-Shi, Shimane 699-0763
  • 7.6/10
  • 6.0 km
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Izumo Royal Hotel
  • Watarihashicho 831 Izumo-Shi, Shimane 693-0004
  • 8/10
  • 6.7 km
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