101029Another day where there may have been lots of things to see and do, but we were fast running out of time (and had already run out of money) and had a long, long way left to go.

Japan-Road-Trip_-_PKO0161Today was also the first day that Risa decided to drive! I guess she wanted to be able to say that she drove too. She drove over 150km between where we parked/camped in Yamaguchi to Izumo-Taisha. It was nice easy driving on mostly empty roads.

We followed the Japan Sea coastline northward and had a quick search of what was to see along the way and the one thing that really stood out was Izumo-Taisha (Izumo Shrine). It is considered one of the most important Shinto shrines in Japan (and therefore the world). It’s where all the Gods come from all over Japan for their annual meeting in October.

izumo taisha izumo taishaThe original shrine has been long lost, but through drawings and descriptions as well as foundations that have been unearthed they are able to guess what it used to look like. They had a scale model, and if it were accurate, impressive would be an understatement. A giant shrine sitting high atop giant columns, connected to the ground by a long timber staircase.

izumo taisha izumo taisha izumo taishaThe building that is currently there was also suitably impressive and grand. Izumo Shrine has Japan’s largest shimenawa (straw rope), which weighs in at about 5ton! There were dozens of people trying to throw money into the rope, in hopes of making a coin stick and something about finding love/having dreams come true. I threw a coin up a few times, but it seemed that with every throw of mine, I’d knock out a few other coins. I thought I’d be able to stretch up and put it in by hand and was teasingly close to succeeding…

izumo taishaI took over the driving roles from Izumo. It was a little after lunch, so we had plenty of time to keep driving.

We got our first glimpse of the season’s snow on Mt. Daisen, where I wasn’t sure if my eyes were teasing me with what looked like dustings of snow and deeper drifts of snow in the valleys up high. I had to know, so Risa did a little searching and found that it had indeed snowed all the way down here, and the cold snap that had us shivering in our van at night brought the snow weeks ahead of average.

We stopped at a michi-no-eki just outside of Tottori City. The road station was situated right next to a shrine for a legendary white rabbit (they even had a real white rabbit living inside the lobby). I’m a little rusty on the details, so forgive me for errors. The legend told of a white rabbit that was trapped on an island off the coast, and in a bid to return to shore made a deal with a shark to ride on its back. The shark tricked the rabbit and attacked, stripping off all the rabbit’s skin. The rabbit was in pain and was given advice to bathe in seawater, but this caused the rabbit even more pain. A local deity helped the poor suffering rabbit and soothed the wounds in a nearby freshwater pond.

It was a stormy night, and we were treated to the soothing sounds of the crashing waves in the stormy seas as we fell asleep.