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.
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.
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.
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.