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Shinto priests at Izumo Taisha Shrine welcome many gods from across Japan

Priests at Izumo Taisha Shrine recite prayers to welcome many gods at Inasa Beach in the city of Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, on Nov. 14, 2021. (Mainichi/Haruno Kosaka)

IZUMO, Shimane -- Shinto priests at west Japan's Izumo Taisha Shrine, where numerous gods from across the country are said to gather, held a ritual to welcome them at Inasa Beach about 1 kilometer west of the shrine on the night of Nov. 14.

    The ritual was held without spectators as a measure to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

    The 10th month in the old Japanese calendar is called "Kannazuki," meaning a month without gods, but in the Izumo region it is called "Kamiarizuki," translating to a month with gods, because many of them apparently gather there.

    Thanks to a bonfire, prayers and the sound of waves, the atmosphere at the beach turned mystical. The cleyera japonica plant species, which is said to attract gods, was brought to the shrine for the event. The gods will stay there for seven days, and a ritual called "Karasadesai" to send them off will be held on the evening of Nov. 21.

    (Japanese original by Haruno Kosaka, Matsue Bureau)

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