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, officially Izumo Ōyashiro, is one of the most ancient and important
Shinto shrine A is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more ''kami''. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship. Although only one word ("shrine") is used in English, in Japanese ...

Shinto shrine
s in
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
. No record gives the date of establishment. Located in
Izumo
Izumo
,
Shimane Prefecture is a Prefectures of Japan, prefecture of Japan located in the Chūgoku region of Honshu. Shimane Prefecture is the List of Japanese prefectures by population, second-least populous prefecture of Japan at 665,205 (February 1, 2021) and has a geog ...
, it is home to two major festivals. It is dedicated to the god , famous as the Shinto deity of marriage and to
Kotoamatsukami In Shinto Shinto (神道 ''Shintō''), also yamatokotoba, termed ''kami-no-michi'', is a religion which originated in Japan. Classified as an East Asian religions, East Asian religion by Religious studies, scholars of religion, its practitioners ...

Kotoamatsukami
, distinguishing heavenly ''kami''. The shrine is believed by many to be the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan, even predating the
Ise Grand Shrine The , located in Ise, Mie, Ise, Mie Prefecture of Japan, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Officially known simply as , Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, and . T ...
. A style of architecture, ''
taisha-zukuri Kamosu Jinja's ''honden'' and a granary at Toro is an ancient Japanese Shinto architecture, architectural style and the oldest Shinto shrine Shinto architecture, architectural style. Named after Izumo Taisha's ''honden'' (sanctuary), like Is ...
'', takes its name from the main hall of Izumo-taisha. That hall, and the attached buildings, were designated
National Treasures of Japan Some of the National Treasures of Japan A is the most precious of Japan's Tangible Cultural Properties of Japan, Tangible Cultural Properties, as determined and designated by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (a special body of the Ministry of ...
in 1952. According to tradition, the hall was previously much taller than at present. The discovery in the year 2000 of the remains of enormous pillars has lent credence to this. The shrine has been rebuilt every 60 to 70 years to maintain the power of the ''
kami (often taken to mean "gods A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entities, such as angel ...
'' and maintain architectural techniques. This regular rebuilding process is called "Sengū" (遷宮) and has long been practiced at a handful of important Shinto shrines, the
Ise Grand Shrine The , located in Ise, Mie, Ise, Mie Prefecture of Japan, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu. Officially known simply as , Ise Jingū is a shrine complex composed of many Shinto shrines centered on two main shrines, and . T ...
being rebuilt every 20 years. Several other buildings in the shrine compound are on the list of
Important Cultural Properties of Japan An The term is often shortened into just is an item officially classified as Tangible Cultural Property (Japan), Tangible Cultural Property by the Government of Japan, Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs (Ministry of Education, Cult ...
.


Origins

According to the two oldest chronicles of Japan, the ''
Kojiki , also sometimes read as ''Furukotofumi'' or ''Furukotobumi'', is an early Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an in . It is situated in the northwest , and is bordered on the west by the , while extending from the in th ...

Kojiki
'' and the ''
Nihon Shoki The , sometimes translated as ''The Chronicles of Japan'', is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times around 30,000 BCE. The Jōmon ...
'', when
Ninigi-no-Mikoto is a deity in Japanese mythology. Grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, Ninigi is the great-grandfather of Japan’s first emperor, Emperor Jimmu. His descent from Heaven brought rice and order to earth. The three sacred treasures brought wi ...
, grandson of the Sun Goddess
Amaterasu Amaterasu, also known as Amaterasu-Ōmikami () or Ōhirume-no-Muchi-no-Kami () among other names, is the goddess of the sun in Japanese mythology. One of the major deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses su ...

Amaterasu
, descended from the heavens, the god Ōkuninushi granted his country to
Ninigi-no-Mikoto is a deity in Japanese mythology. Grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, Ninigi is the great-grandfather of Japan’s first emperor, Emperor Jimmu. His descent from Heaven brought rice and order to earth. The three sacred treasures brought wi ...
. Amaterasu was much pleased by this action and she presented Izumo-taisha to Ōkuninushi. At one time, the Japanese islands were controlled from Izumo, according to Shinto myths. Izumo, known as the realm of gods or the land of myths, is Izumo-taisha's province. Its main structure was originally constructed to glorify the great achievement of Ōkuninushi, considered the creator of Japan. Ōkuninushi was devoted to the building of the nation, in which he shared many joys and sorrows with the ancestors of the land. In addition to being the savior, Ōkuninushi is considered the guardian god and god of happiness, as well as the god who establishes good relationships. According to the ''
Nihon Shoki The , sometimes translated as ''The Chronicles of Japan'', is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times around 30,000 BCE. The Jōmon ...
'', the sun goddess Amaterasu said, "From now on, my descendants shall administer the affairs of state. You shall cast a spell of establishing good relationship over people to lead them a happy life. I will build your residence with colossal columns and thick and broad planks in the same architectural style as mine and name it Amenohisu-no-miya." The other gods were gathered and ordered by Amaterasu to build the grand palace at the foot of Mt. Uga. There is no knowledge of exactly when Izumo-taisha was built, but a record compiled around 950 (
Heian period The is the last division of classical Japanese history The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times around 30,000 BCE. The Jōmon period The is the time in Japanese prehistory, traditi ...
) describes the shrine as the highest building, reaching approximately 48 meters, which exceeds in height the 45 meter-tall temple that enshrined the Great Image of Buddha,
Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple A Buddhist temple or Buddhist monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "si ...

Tōdai-ji
. This was due to early Shinto cosmology, when the people believed the gods (kami) were above the human world and belonged to the most extraordinary and majestic parts of nature. Therefore, Izumo-taisha could have been an attempt to create a place for the
kami (often taken to mean "gods A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entities, such as angel ...
that would be above humans. According to ''Kojiki'', the legendary stories of old Japan, and ''Nihon Shoki'', the chronicles of old Japan, Izumo-taisha was considered the largest wooden structure in Japan when it was originally constructed. Before being known as Izumo Ōyashiro or Izumo-taisha, the shrine was known as Okami-no-miya in Izumo, Itsukashinokami-no-miya, Kizuki-no-Oyashiro, Kizuki-no-miya, or Iwakumanoso-no-miya. Evidence of the original Grand Shrine has been found. For example, part of one of the pillars for the structure was found: three cedar trees with a three-meter diameter at its base. It is on display at the shrine. Although there is not much early evidence one can see when visiting, there is a shop just before the main entrance that has a smaller scale model of the original main structure made by local college students.


History

During the
Kamakura period#REDIRECT Kamakura period The is a period of History of Japan, Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Kamakura by the first ''shōgun'', Minamoto no Yoritomo. Th ...
, around 1200, the main structure was reduced in size. Then in 1744, the shrine was reconstructed to the present size of 24 meters high and 11 meters square at its base. In the 18th and 19th centuries, as travel became more common in Japan, the shrine became a central place of
pilgrimage A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, aft ...
. Since the shrine spirit was settled in the inner shrine in 1744, it has been relocated three times for renovation of the inner shrine, using a traditional ceremony. The relocations took place in 1809, 1881, and 1953. From 1871 through 1946, the Izumo-taisha was officially designated one of the , meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. In April 2008, the spirit was moved to temporary housing in the front shrine of Izumo-taisha in preparation for the Heisei-period renovations. Izumo-taisha's inner shrine was opened to the public for the first time in 60 years in the summer of 2008. On completion of the renovations, Ōkuninushi was returned to the inner shrine in a ceremony attended by over 8,000 people, held on May 11, 2013.


Architecture

The main structure of Izumo Oyashiro was built in the Taisha style, the oldest style of building shrines. An impressive sized gable-entrance structure is built for the main structure, which gave the name of The Great Shrine or The Grand Shrine. The main hall (''
honden In Shinto shrine architecture, the , also called , or sometimes as in Ise Shrine's case, is the most sacred building at a Shinto shrine, intended purely for the use of the enshrined ''kami'', usually symbolized by a mirror or sometimes by a stat ...
'') bears an enormous '' chigi'' (scissor-shaped finials at the front and back ends of the roof). A Japanese architecture book states, "In plan, the present Main Shrine resembles that of the Daijoe Shoden, built for the accession of each new Emperor. The main shrine at Izumo is thought, therefore, to preserve a floor plan characteristic of ancient domestic architecture" (Nishi & Hozumi, 1985, p. 41). From the view of architectures, the original height of the main structure of Izumo Taisha makes it difficult to study the historical building styles and methods. However, what is known is that from the construction of a building as big as the main structure, major problems were presented. Because of this, structural and stylistic changes occurred each time the main structure was rebuilt, which caused the outer form to be less reflective of the original construction of the main structure. Although the outside of the structure changed with each reconstruction, the floor plan remained virtually unchanged. The layout consists of nine support pillars arranged so that the inside is divided into four sections and causes the entrance to be off-centered. A significant characteristic that is common among most shrines is the symmetrical design, making the main structure of Izumo-taisha peculiar for its asymmetrical floor plan. The main structure was built more like a home rather than a shrine which suggests that between the people and kami there was a less formal relationship than at other shrines.


Kagura-den

Izumo-taisha's was first built in 1776 by the Senge family, Izumo Kokusō, or governor of Izumo, as a grand hall for performance of traditional rituals. It was rebuilt in 1981 to commemorate the centennial of the foundation of the Izumo Oyashiro-kyo order. Traditional prayer by Izumo Kokuso, wedding ceremonies of believers, and the performances of sacred dance to ancient Japanese music involve the
Oracle An oracle is a person or agency Agency may refer to: * a governmental or other institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntington, are "stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior". Institutions can refer to mechanisms which go ...

Oracle
with 240 mats. Also worshipped with prayer is a frame with four dyed
Kanji are a set of logographic In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gest ...

Kanji
characters, meaning "the Oracle Filled with Aureole," by Prince Arisugawa above the
altar An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifice Sacrifice is the offering of material possessions or the lives of animals or humans to a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phe ...

altar
. The Kagura-den features the largest ''
shimenawa are lengths of laid rice straw or hemp rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. vary in diameter from a few centimetres to several metres, and are often seen festooned with —traditional paper streamers. A space bound by typ ...
'' (sacred straw rope) in Japan; it is 13.5 meters long and weighs around 5 tons. The rope is one of the most easily recognized and distinctive features of Izumo-taisha.


Shōkokan

The consists of two floors. The first floor is the reception office for ''Kaguraden''. The second floor consists of a museum for important items. Some items in the museum are items designated as national treasure and important cultural assets, like jewelry, household articles, paintings, swords, and musical instruments. Considered most important in ''Shōkokan'' are a set of Japan's oldest wooden pestle and an igniting board and a small boat that was hollowed out of a piece of wood. The small boat was believed to have come from the upper stream of the
Yoshino River The Yoshino River (吉野川 ''Yoshino-gawa'') is a river on the island of Shikoku, Japan. It is long and has a watershed of . It is the second longest river in Shikoku (slightly shorter than the Shimanto River, Shimanto), and is the only river ...
, through the Seto Inland Sea, and to the Inasa Beach near Izumo-taisha.


Festivals

Festivals in Izumo are a time when the people gather around the god to fulfill their wish to live a happy life. One of the most important festivals in Izumo-taisha is the Imperial Festival held on May 14. Following the Imperial Festival is the Grand Festival on May 14 and 15. Some other major festivals are January 1, Omike Festival; January 3, Fukumukae Festival; January 5, Beginning Sermon Festival; February 17, Kikoku (prayer for abundant crops) Festival; April 1, Kyoso Festival; June 1, Suzumidono Festival; and August 6–9 is Izumo Oyashiro-kyo Religion Festival. In October of the lunar calendar, a festival is held to welcome all the gods to Izumo Grand Shrine. It is believed that the gods gather at Izumo Shrine in October to discuss the coming year's marriages, deaths, and births. For this reason, people around the Izumo area call October ''kamiarizuki'' ("the month with gods"), but the rest of Japan calls October ''
Kannazuki is a traditional name for the tenth month in the traditional Japanese calendar. The name can be translated literally as "the month when there are no gods". In Shinto tradition it was said that the eight million gods of Japan left their shrines a ...
'' ("the month without gods").


Administrator's family

The descendants of , the second son of , the sun goddess whose first son is the ancestor of the imperial family, have been, in the name of or governor of Izumo, taking over rituals because when Izumo-taisha was founded Amenohohi-no-mikoto rendered service to Okuninushi-no-kami. The family's conflict around 1340 made them separated into two lineages, and . After the separation those two families took the position of Izumo Kokuso by turns until the late 19th century. Shinto was reconstructed as modernized Japan's national religion in the late 19th century. In 1871, Izumo-taisha was designated as an Imperial-associated shrine and the government sent a new administrator so Izumo kokuso families were no more the administrators of Izumo-taisha. Senge and Kitajima established their religious corporations respectively, by Senge and by Kitajima. Under the Allied occupation after World War II, Shinto was separated from the government control and Izumo-taisha was reformed into a private shrine, then Senge and its Izumo-taisha-kyo took back the position of the administrator of Izumo-taisha. , the 83rd-generation Izumo Kokuso of Senge lineage, was chosen to be the chief priest of Izumo-taisha in 1947. He died in February 2002 at the age of 89. Currently, the position of the administrator of Izumo-taisha is succeeded by Senge lineage. Its Izumo-taisha-kyo is better known nationwide and has more followers in total, " (1998/8)", but locally Kitajima lineage and its Izumo-kyo has more followers around Izumo region. Kitajima is the more orthodox Izumo kokuso. " (1898)". On October 5, 2014, Kunimaro Senge, eldest son of the current administrator Takamasa Senge, married Princess Noriko at the shrine. Princess Noriko is a daughter of the late Prince Takamado, a cousin of the now- Emperor Emeritus of Japan."Japantimes - Princess Noriko to wed

Tokyo, 27 May 2014. Retrieved on 4 October 2014


Gallery

Image:Izumotaisha-doutorii.JPG, Bronze ''
torii A is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine A is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more ''kami (often taken to mean "gods A deity or god is a sup ...

torii
'' gate Image:Izumo-taisha 121538651 f69f257ed0 o.jpg, Roofs with '' chigi'' and ''
katsuogi or are short, decorative logging, logs found on Japanese architecture, Japanese and Shinto architecture. They are placed at a right angle along the ridge of roofs, and are usually featured in religious or imperial architecture. ''Katsuogi'' pre ...
'' Image:Izumo-taisha05n4592.jpg, Nishi-jukusha Image:Izumo-shrine Haiden01.jpg, The '' haiden'', or prayer hall Image:Izumo-shrine Haiden Honden.jpg, The inner sanctuary behind the ''haiden'' Image:IzumoTaisha-soganoyashiro.JPG, Soga-no-Yashiro Image:IzumoTaisha.JPG, The ''honden'' Image:IzumoTaisha-doutorii-meibun.JPG, Pillar inscription Image:Izumo-shrine Shin-no-mihashira.jpg, Replica of pillars of the ancient shrine Image:Izumooyashiro13.JPG, Reconstruction of part of Izumo shrine in ancient times Image:Izumooyashiro11.JPG, Reconstruction of part of Izumo shrine in the
Kamakura period#REDIRECT Kamakura period The is a period of History of Japan, Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Kamakura by the first ''shōgun'', Minamoto no Yoritomo. Th ...
Image:Izumooyashiro08.JPG, Reconstruction of part of Izumo shrine in the
Edo period The or is the period between 1603 and 1867 in the history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a c ...
to modern time.


See also

* List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts: others) *
List of National Treasures of Japan (shrines)The number of Shinto shrines A is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more ''kami''. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship. Although only one word ("shrine") is u ...
*
Ōkuninushi Ōkuninushi (Historical kana orthography, historical orthography: ''Ohokuninushi''), also known as Ō(a)namuchi (''Oho(a)namuchi'') or Ō(a)namochi (''Oho(a)namochi'') among other variants, is a ''kami'' in Japanese mythology. He is one of the ce ...
* Ko-Shintō *
Shinto shrine A is a structure whose main purpose is to house ("enshrine") one or more ''kami''. Its most important building is used for the safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship. Although only one word ("shrine") is used in English, in Japanese ...

Shinto shrine
*
Tourism in Japan Japan attracted 31.19 million international tourists in 2018. Japan has 21 World Heritage Sites, including Himeji Castle, Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and Historic Mon ...


References


General references

* ''Ancient Izumo in the spotlight''. (2007, February 26, p. 19). The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo), 1. Retrieved July 12, 2008, from the LexisNexis Academic database. * ''Guide to Izumo Oyashiro''. (n.d.). (Pamphlet available to visitors at the shrine) * ''Izumo Shrine Find Points to Huge Ancient Building''. (2000, April, p. 29). The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo), 1. Retrieved July 12, 2008, from the LexisNexis Academic database. * Lucas, B. (2002, May 7).
History and Symbolism in Shinto Shrine Architecture
'. Harvey Mudd College Web. Retrieved July 26, 2008 * Nishi, K., & Hozumi, K. (1985). ''What is Japanese Architecture?: A survey of traditional Japanese architecture, with a list of sites and a map''. New York, NY: Harper & Row. *
Ponsonby-Fane
Ponsonby-Fane
, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1959)
''The Imperial House of Japan.''
Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society
OCLC 194887
* ''Senge, chief priest of Izumo Shrine, dies at 89''. (2002, April 18). Japan Economic Newswire. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from the LexisNexis Academic database.


External links


Official Site
(Japanese)
Architecture of the Izumo Grand Shrine


{{Authority control National Treasures of Japan Shinto shrines in Shimane Prefecture Izumo Province Shinto