October 19, 2016

The Month With No Gods

Last week, the day after the Adult Sports Day my friend who just moved in next door invited me over for a Nabe (鍋) Party. One of the other guests was my friend’s senpai who is currently riding his bike around the entire country of Japan, but had flown back to Saga to join in on sports day. At one point we chose to come over to my apartment to check out my maps. I have a world map, a map of Japan, and a map of the United States decorating my apartment walls, all of which have stickers marking the places that I’ve been to. I asked about the route senpai was taking around Japan, and he showed us on the map, all while telling stories about different places that he’s been to. He noticed I didn’t have a sticker in Shimane Prefecture, and asked if I’d never been to Izumo Taisha. I informed him that I hadn’t, and he began to explain to us that I should definitely go before I leave Japan and that I was lucky enough that October is the best month of the year to go. He explained that nowadays in the Japanese language October is called 十月 (Jyuu Gatsu, 10th month) although the traditional Japanese name for October is 神無月 (Kaminazuki, month without gods) except in Izumo Prefecture (now Shimane Prefecture) where the traditional Japanese name for October is 神有月 (Kamiarizuki, month with gods). The difference in name is said to be because all of the Shinto Gods gather at Izumo Taisha for the month of October, so there are no gods at any of the shrines in the rest of Japan. After hearing this, I told myself I would get there before I left, and it ends up I left the next night to start the eight hour drive to Izumo.

 

Motonosumi Inari Shrine

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After driving for 2 hours Wednesday night I slept in my car at a parking area on the highway. I woke up early the next morning to go to Motonosumi Inari Shrine.

 

Motonosumi Inari Shrine

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Motonosumi Inari Shrine has 123 red torii gates leading down towards the sea.

 

Motonosumi Inari Shrine

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Since I got there early, I was lucky enough to be the only one there.

 

Motonosumi Inari Shrine

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Motonosumi Inari Shrine has become popular with tourists recently, although most of my friends had never heard of the shrine before I went.

 

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The drive from Motonosumi Inari Shrine to Izumo takes over four hours, mostly through rice paddies like this.

 

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You can find shrines almost anywhere in Japan, even on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

 

The Missing Train

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Photography can be a pain. I found this place and decided to wait for a train, after an hour of waiting I was left with just the tracks.

 

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Even after taking almost twenty pictures of this house by the water I couldn’t capture just how beautiful the scene was.

 

I arrived in Izumo Thursday afternoon around three o’clock and checked into my guest house before walking around the town. I decided that instead of checking out the shrine that day, I’d wake up early the next morning to get there around sunrise. After a delicious homemade meal at the guesthouse I shuffled off to bed early so I wouldn’t oversleep.

 

Izumo Taisha

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The large torii gate in front of the shrine. The first of several gates before entering the shrine, in the past this was the original entrance.

 

Izumo Taisha

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The entrance to Izumo Taisha (出雲大社) the lighting from the early morning sun makes for a beautiful picture.

 

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Even after entering, there is still a long walk until you reach the shrine.

 

Izumo Taisha

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The final torii gate before accessing the shrine.

 

Izumo Taisha

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Izumo Taisha’s Kaguraden (Kagura Hall) the shimenawa (sacred straw rope) is the largest one in Japan weighing in at 5 tons.

 

Izumo Taisha

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Prayer gate at the inner sanctuary.

 

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The wall surrounding the inner sanctuary, several other buildings are accessible along this path.

 

Izumo Taisha

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The main sanctuary buildings from behind.

 

Hinoseki

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After leaving Izumo Taisha I drove alongside the sea on a mountain road to Hinomisaki.

 

Hinomisaki Shrine

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I stopped at Hinomisaki Shrine before taking a walk around. Notice the difference in size of the shimenawa (sacred straw rope).

 

Hinomisaki Lighthouse

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Hinomisaki Lighthouse at the far western point of Shimane Prefecture.

 

Fisherman

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I still have no idea how this guy got out there.

 

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A short walk by the sea before starting the drive back home.

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