Monday, July 02, 2007
Izumo Taisha is Japan's oldest and most sacred shrine, and I have heard that it inspired the anime movie "Spirited Away". Every fall, it is said that the 8 million Shinto gods descend and gather here for a week.
It is dedicated to "Okuninushi no Mikoto", the Shinto god of marriage. (What's with all the marriage shrines lately?!?) Visitors praying at the shrine clap 4 times instead of 2 times- twice for themselves, and twice for their actual or desired future spouse!
Then there are all the wish making rituals: writing wishes on "ema" (wooden plaques) and then hanging them up, tying the "omikuji" (fortune telling paper slips) around tree branches, trunks, ropes, or anything else they can get their hands on, and this new one- throwing coins into the "shimenawa" ropes (the rice straw ropes that are used to demarcate sacred areas in Shinto shrines).
People (including us) stood underneath the massive ropes and flung coins into them, in the hopes that their wishes would be granted if they stayed in the ropes. These ropes at Izumo Taisha are the biggest in Japan, I think- like 5 tons or something- and are filled with millions of coins!