Entertainment Fit for the Gods

Entertainment Fit for the Gods

- San'in Travel Diary Vol.4 -

Hi, I’m Tom Miyagawa Coulton and I’m a photographer and writer currently living on a small island in Hiroshima. I’m back in the San’in area, this time to watch a kagura performance and walk along the Shinmon Avenue to Izumo Taisha - one of Japan’s most venerated shrines.

By Tom Miyagawa Coulton

Iwami Kagura Performance

The main event was a rendition of the popular tale of ‘Orochi’ – where the hero Susano defeats an eight-headed serpent. The performance lasted for 45 lively minutes, ending when Susano defeats the last of the fire-spitting serpent heads. After the dust settled, there was time for us to take pictures and try on the costumes.
The kagura performances are held every weekend at this shrine just outside the city, with a different local kagura troupe performing every week. This was a memorable evening. I’d love to be back.


Shinmon Avenue – The Approach to Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine

Across the road we visited the popular Menoya store. This shop is famous for crafting stones and crystals into the distinctive shape of a ‘magatama’. These are small amulets shaped like one side of a yin and yang symbol. The amulets have been worn by the Japanese since prehistoric times and still prove popular today. In Menoya, they have pre-cut stone amulets of all shapes and sizes, some made from highly rare crystals and gemstones. Also, take a look at the biggest magatama in the world hanging in the center of the shop. This beast is made from pure quartz and weighs a whopping 180kgs.
Having browsed the shops of the Shinmon Avenue – all that was left to do was visit the shrine.

About Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine >>

Tour Guide-Interpreter Request

Both the kagura performance and the Shinmon Avenue approach to Izumo Taisha were heavily linked to Japan’s native religion of Shintoism. A lot of Japanese culture is entwined with practices and mysticism related to this religion. My two experiences on this trip helped me to understand Shintoism a little better. (Visited in January 2018)

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