As mentioned in our previous post, the Grand Shrine at Izumo enshrines the Shinto deity of marriage, Ōkuninushi and is therefore a very popular wedding venue. Couples visit to bind the ties of their relationship and young women visit in large numbers to pray and wish to find love. On most of the ema are written wishes to be married before early thirties, some much younger. These wooden boards are left in the shrine for the gods to receive and rather surprisingly, some people write their precise address, to be sure the gods know exactly where to send their granted wish!
The rice-straw rope hanging over the entrance of each building in this Shinto complex is called a shimenawa which literally means ‘enclosing rope’. Hanging also are the smaller, white paper zigzag streamers, called shide. Shimenawa indicate a sacred space and they are often used in purification ceremonies on a new building project, sometimes hang around certain trees or water springs although not on the scale of these at Izumo. The shimenawa hanging over the ceremony hall is the largest in Japan; remade every 3 years, and weighs around 5 tons. You might notice that there is now green netting over the ends of this one. This is to prevent the rather curious modern trend of people attempting to throw and stick coins into the straws, claiming that if the coin stuck, your wish would be granted. We got hit a few times by 100円 coins last time, so the netting was not unwelcome.