Izumo Taisha, also known as Izumo Oyashiro, is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan having existed on its present site for 1500 years.
The current buildings date from 1744 and the main building (honden) is also the largest shrine structure in the country.
One of the shrine's presiding kami (gods) is Okuninushi, the deity of marriage and visitors here often come to pray for luck in finding a partner.
Outside the main hall of worship are massive straw ropes - shimenawa - good fortune falls on those who can toss a coin that lodges in the cut ends of the ropes.
Izumo Taisha is 8km outside Izumo city in Shimane Prefecture and can be reached by train to Izumo Taishamae on the Ichibata Line. The tourist office (Tel: 0853 2100) is just outside the main torii gate to the shrine on your left.
Izumo city can be reached by overnight bus from Tokyo and Nagoya and by overnight train from Tokyo Station (the Sunrise Izumo).
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Saturday, December 01, 2007