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Izumo: City of Myths and Dreams
A once in a lifetime journey
Izumo City is situated in the central eastern part of Shimane Prefecture, which is itself located on the western side of Honshu, the main island of Japan. Bordered by the Japan Sea to the north and west and by the saltwater Lake Shinji to the east, the plain on which Izumo rests was formed by the Hiikawa and Kandogawa rivers, so that Izumo is blessed with abundant greenery and fresh water. The northern and western coastline of the Shimane Peninsula is home to a “ria” (drowned valley) and has been designated a National Park.
Izumo City is known as the home of the Izumo Myths, tales full of romance and adventure from the birth of ancient Japan. The Izumo Taisha, or Grand Shrine at Izumo, pays homage to Okuninushi-no-kami, the god of matchmaking, whose story is documented in two important written collections of Japanese history and mythology, the Kojiki and Nipponshoki.
According to tradition, all the gods throughout the country gather at Izumo Taisha once a year to confer on matters of importance. This takes place in the 10th month of the old lunar calendar used in Japan, and the month is known throughout most of the country as “Kannazuki”, meaning “the month without gods”. In Izumo, however, this month is referred to as “Kamiarizuki”, or “the month with gods” and a ceremony is held each year to celebrate their arrival.
The shrine in which Okuninushi-no-kami resides has been designated as a National Treasure, and it is said that the current building was erected in 1744. Since then, reconstruction and repair work was carried out in 1809, 1881 and 1953. In 2008, after a 60-year hiatus, repair work began once more and another building at Izumo Taisha was designated as Okuninushi-no-kami’s residence in the interim. Repair work on the main shrine is scheduled to be completed around May 2013, at which time another ceremony is being planned to celebrate the homecoming of Okuninushi-
Various historical sites have been discovered in Izumo, such as the remains of a tomb thought to have been built for a powerful king or lord sometime from the end of the 2nd to the beginning of the 3rd century. Many artifacts, along with informative, easy-to-understand exhibits on the culture of that time can be found at the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo, located near Izumo Taisha, and the Izumo Yayoinomori Museum, which just opened its doors to the public in April 2010.
Izumo is where the gods from every part
of Japan gather. We hope that you too
will visit Izumo, where you can receive the
blessings of the gods in a place overflowing
with both ancient culture and the vitality of
-Area: 543 square kilometers
-Access: 85 minutes flying time from Tokyo
(Haneda) to Izumo Airport
25 minutes by shuttle bus from Izumo Airport to Izumo City
-Local products: Izumo soba, Shimane grapes, figs, persimmons, Shimane wine etc.
Izumo Soba (buckwheat noodle)
For further information:
International Exchange Section (Izumo, City, Japan)
Tourism Promotion Division
Japan Local Government Center (CLAIR, New York)