Izumo: The Heart of the Japanese Spirit *RERUN
The Izumo region in Shimane Prefecture, where deities from across the country are said to gather annually for a meeting, is closely linked to the gods. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, our reporter explores the home of Japanese mythology, visiting a workshop that makes one of the largest shimenawa sacred ropes for the Izumo Grand Shrine and meeting local residents producing unique works of folk art as offerings to the gods. Jaime Lopez, a wire artist from Chile, takes a close look at the connection between the people of Japan and their gods.

Izumo Grand Shrine

This most sacred shrine is mentioned in Japan's oldest historical record compiled in the 8th century. It draws worshippers from across Japan. In October on Japan's old lunar calendar, a ritual takes place in the shrine to welcome gods from across the country. On the shrine's precincts, a group of buildings accommodate the deities.

Oshimenawa Sosakukan

This workshop in Iinan produces sacred shimenawa ropes for shrines across the country, including the giant oshimenawa for the Izumo Grand Shrine, which is replaced every six years. Visitors may observe craftsmen at work and experience the rope making themselves.

Hirata Isshiki-kazari

The folk craft started over 200 years ago to express gratitude towards a local deity who saved the community from an epidemic. People use plenty of ingenuity to assemble everyday items, such as plates, to produce their works. During the summer festival, the works are displayed in the neighborhood to entertain the gods, who pass by onboard portable shrines.

Access

It's an 80-minute flight from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Izumo Airport. Hirata is accessible from the Unshu-Hirata Station on the Ichibata Electric Railway Line.