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“Shinkoku is the sacred name of Japan — Shinkoku, ‘The Country of the Gods’; and of all Shinkoku the most holy ground is the land of Izumo,” wrote Lafcadio Hearn more than 100 years ago in his book “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan.” For Hearn, it had been an ambition to visit Shimane Prefecture’s Izumo, “the land of gods” as he described it, ever since he learned about it from the “Kojiki” (“Record of Ancient Matters”), the oldest extant manuscript in Japan. Since his visit, the writer’s depiction has enchanted many others and persuaded them to visit the site.

Izumo is a place of major significance in the legends of the “Kojiki.” The city is well known for its Izumo Taisha, one of Japan’s most revered and oldest Shinto shrines, which is dedicated to Okuninushi no Mikoto, a deity closely associated with marriage. This year marks the 1,300th anniversary of the compilation of the “Kojiki,” while next year, a “grand installation” ceremony of Izumo Taisha will take place for the first time in 60 years. The grand installation marks the return of Okuninushi no Mikoto’s spirit, which had been temporarily moved to another location during the shrine’s renovations.

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