Saturday, 27 June 2015

A Weekend Getaway Part 1: A Visit to Izumo Taisha

I seldom go out of town for a weekend. I spend (or prefer spending) my weekend at home, cooped myself up in my working room, creating new pieces of tsumami zaiku for my shop or just making things. But last weekend I made an exception. I went out of town for a two-day trip to a prefecture next to Tottori. It's Shimane prefecture.

Actually the reason why I finally decided to have a weekend getaway was that a friend of mine in Tokyo had been planning to visit Shimane and Tottori. So we planned this trip for a couple of months.

My husband and I went to Yonago airport to pick her up on Saturday afternoon.

Our first stop was Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography. Shoji Ueda was considered one of prominent photographers in Japan. He received Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the goverment of France in 1996. He passed away in 2000. I didn't take any pictures there as the museum was being renovated when we were visiting. To know more about this museum this is the link.

From there we headed to Matsue city in Shimane prefecture. It took as about 1 hour from Yonago to reach it. Two friends joined us for a dinner and the trip the next day.

The Sunday trip was really fun! We went to several places.

Our first stop was the famous Izumo shrine located in Izumo city. Izumo is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan. This was my second visit to the shrine. My first one was in 2011. It had undergone some renovations which completed in 2013. Izumo Taisha is easily recognized by its shimenawa or sacred straw rope. Izumo Taisha has the largest shimenawa in Japan. There is an interesting habit there where visitors or pilgrims throw coins to the shimenawa. If you throw a coin and it manages to get stuck in the shimenawa, it is said that your dream will come true. However, apparently people cannot do that anymore. Wire netting has been attached to the bottom of the straw rope to prevent people doing it. I was told that the reason was that often the coins which were stuck inside the straw fell off after a while. And children happily picked them up whenever some coins dropped from the straw. I guess the shrine's authority thought this would encourage dishonesty among the children so they decided to cover the bottoms with wire netting :) Here are some pictures from Izumo Taisha.

This is the gate.

Shimenawa or sacred straw rope. But this is not the biggest one.

Now this one is the largest shimenawa :)

When visiting a shrine, pilgrims often pick omikuji. Omikuji is kind of fortune telling. The fortune is written on a small piece of paper which one can get from a box by making a small offering like 5 yen. When one gets a good luck, they can bring the paper home and when it's bad luck, they must fold the paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall. Like this pine tree in the yard of Izumo Taisha is literally covered with omikuji. Looks pretty though. But not to worry. No nails attached to the tree. The authority made some kind of device made of bamboo around the three. So pilgrims can attach the omikuji without hurting the tree. I never try omikuji. I guess I am a bit coward hahaha I just don't want to get bad fortune :))

Our next visit is to another shrine. But I'll write about it in another post.

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