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Izumo Taisha Shrine

This conference center for the Shinto gods of Japan is one of the most important shrines in the country.

This shrine holds a special place in Japanese Shinto mythology, said to be the venue for an annual conference of the millions of gods. Which suggests that, if you come at the time and look in the right place, you might catch sight of mountain gods chit-chatting with fox spirits.

Although the odds of that are slim, there’s plenty of very real stuff to feast your eyes on at Izumo Taisha Shrine, including impressive torii gates and well-maintained halls. It’s located in Izumo City, around an hour by train from the prefectural capital Matsue.

Nobody knows for sure when it was built, but it’s confirmed to be at least 1300 years old seeing as it was name dropped in the very earliest written historical records of Japan. The resident god goes by the name Okuninushi, the guardian of Izumo and one of the oldest creator gods in Japanese mythology. Nowadays he’s thought to bless marriages and bring good luck for singles looking for love.

That’s why you’ll often see people clap four times instead of two when praying, as they’re not just doing it for themselves but also their future or current partner. The best time for praying here is during the aforementioned godly AGM held here from the 10th to the 17th of November. Since 8 million gods are thought to be in attendance, it stands to reason that your chances of having your wishes granted are multiplied by as much!

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