Izumo myths that created a variety of food and sightseeing spots
There are many myth stages in Izumo city in Shimane prefecture. One of them is Inasanohama, which is about 30 minutes by bus from JR Izumoshi Station and faces to the Sea of Japan. It is said that it is the place at where the god who came down from heaven and the god who had governed Izumo, Okuninushi-no-mikoto discussed which of them would govern this excellent country “Ashihara no Nakatsukuni (a name for Japan)”.
Every October 10th of Japan’s old lunar calendar (in 2016 that day falls on November 9th) is believed to be the day deities from all over Japan convene, to discuss matters concerning “en-musubi”, the joining of mortals in destined relationships (“en”). On that day, the deities are said to meet at Izumo Taisha Shrine, where Okuninushi is enshrined. The point of entry where the deities are welcomed on arrival is Inasano-Hama Beach. “This is a sacred beach where a custom of worship remains, of offering deities sand from the shore; but local residents also love the beach as recreational swimming site in the summer”, says the tourism ambassador.
From Inasanohama beach to Izumo Oyashiro is about 10 minutes on foot. “Kamimukae-no-michi” (a road to welcome the gods), where the gods walk through, has still a custom to cleanse your body with sea water picked up from Inasanohama on 1st every month. Flowers are held in bamboo cylinders which are used to pick up sea water to delight people passing by.
There are many resturants and cafes gathered around the gate of Izumo Oyashiro, which are in tribute to a ritual or festival. The origin of “Zenzai”, azuki beans sweetened by being boiled with sugar, is “Jinzaimochi”, which was served to people in October in old lunar calendar when the gods gathered. It is said that “Jinzaimochi” is an Izumo dialect, and it changed to “Zunzai”, eventually changing its form to “Zenzai”, and came over to Kyoto. “Jinzai” means that the gods exist in Izumo. While in other areas of Japan, the month is called “Kannazuki” (the month without the gods) since the gods are absent, but in Izumo it is called “Kamiaritsuki” (the month with the gods).
In 17th and 18th century, when ordinary people visited Izumo Oyashiro, they enjoyed eating soba at a soba restaurant in front of the gate. Also, at Izumo Oyashiro “Kamiarisai” (in 2016, it is held from November 10th to 16th), soba food stands lines in front of the gate, and people enjoyed hot soba. “There are many soba restaurants in Izumo, and they compete their skills and tastes with each other. Finding your favorite soba is one of the ways to enjoy a trip to Izumo.”
Enclose your prayers into Magatama, comma‐shaped Japanese beads
Tamatsukuri hot spring, which is about 30 minutes by JR Sanin Main Line from JR Izumoshi Station, also has a deep involvement with myths. An ancient god, Susanoo-no-mikoto, who beats Yamata-no-orochi, a big snake with eight heads, to save a beautiful girl, is said to have presented Magatama to the god of Tamatsukuriyu Shrine.
In Tamayu-cho where Tamatsukuri hot spring is located, agate with good quality was collected from Kasenzan near by and Magatama was made there since around the third century. We recommend Magatama and accessories of agate for a great souvenir.
Tamatsukuri hot spring is an old spring that is said to have been opened in the 8th century. It is well known as a hot spring for beautiful skin, and is also written “Once you soak in it, you will be pulchritudinous” in a book in those days. Even until now, many cosmetics manufactured in Izumo area includes water from Tamatsukuri hot spring.
Landscape and gourmet food are both gifts from the climate
Izumo has also many foods that were born from local weather and land features. The speciality of Lake Shinjiko, a brackish lake (a lake of fresh water into which seawater enters) is “Shicchin Foods”. They are dishes with seven seafood of sea perch, moroge shrimp, eel, cattle egret, ice fish, carp and freshwater clams taken from Lake Shinjiko as ingredients. Each ingredient is cooked to take advantage of its own features, like sea perch are steamed being wrapped by Japanese paper and freshwater clams are for miso soup.
Higasiizumo-cho, located west to Lake Shinjiko and faced to Nakaumi, has been known as a dried persimmon village since 18th century. Dried persimmons produced here have a very high sugar content. From November through December, a large amount of persimmons are hung at persimmon barns of farm houses to color the entire building orange.
Protecting ancient Izumo culture and delivering daily necessities to contemporary people
AEON MALL Izumo opened in May 2016 is a store that gets much attention as a place you can enjoy gourmet foods and local products developed by the culture and traditions of Izumo. The location is also convenient as it is seven minutes by bus from JR Izumoshi Station.
The place that local people recommend for choosing souvenir is “Dandan Yokocho”. Offering a wide variety of local sake, Izumo soba, local famous confection, etc., it is one of the must-to-visit shops when you come to Izumo. For products you buy at “Dandan Yokocho”, you can go through tax exemption procedure quickly at the tax-free counter inside. “Dandan’ means thank you in Izumo dialect. I also use AEON MALL often in my private time.”
AEON STYLE Izumo where you can experience a line-up of goods unique to Izumo
AEON STYLE Izumo, which is the main store in AEON MALL Izumo, is a general merchandise store closely attached with local areas and proposing a life style. Also here you will find a rich line-up unique to Izumo.
The popular daily bakery “Bread Factory” has created a special Zenzai-flavoured sweet bun to commemorate Izumo – the birthplace of Zenzai. The bun, which contains red-bean paste and condensed milk, has been dubbed the *en-musubi anpan. (*en-musubi refers to the relationship between mortals that are destined to be together.)
When you get tired of shopping, have a rest at an eat-in space “Izumo Terrace” on the first floor of AEON STYLE Izumo. Besides enjoying drinks such as coffee or ice cream, you can also eat foods you purchased at AEON STYLE.
AEON MALL Izumo
1066 Watarihashi-cho, Izumo-shi, Shimane
Open: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm (AEON MALL Izumo)
11:00 am – 10:00 pm (restaurants)
8:00 am – 10:00 pm (AEON STYLE Izumo)
* It changes depending on the store.
Open all year around
About 7 minutes by bus from JR Izumoshi Station
AEON is a “drop-by station”
AEON MALL Izumo also has fulfilling services for travelers. You can use Wi-Fi at places such as the food court for free. Also, at the ATM of AEON Bank placed in the store, you can make cashing transactions with a credit card or a bank card issued abroad.
In AEON MALL Izumo, AEON STYLE and 10 tenant stores are duty-free enabled. For products you purchase at AEON STYLE or “Dandan Yokocho”, you can go through tax exemption procedure at the tax-free counter (For tenants of AEON MALL, you can do it at each store).
No need of coins, and also usable for local shopping
AEON “WAON card” is a Re-loadable Electronic-Money, with which you can pay for your purchases with just one touch (issuing fee: 300 yen). Points are added at every purchase, and no there is need of coins. Besides AEON stores across Japan, you can use it at partner shops in each area. Local waon with drawings unique to the area printed on the card will also be memories of the trip.
“Did you enjoy my introduction of Izumo? Please visit Izumo and touch the history and culture here. Dandan! Thank you!”