Miho Shrine is a beautiful complex in the Mihonoseki coastal area of Matsue City on the Japan Sea. The dark wood of the structures in the compound create a powerful presence against the backdrop of the forested mountain.
The shrine is dedicated to a number of Shinto gods related to farming, fishing and economic prosperity, the most popularly known of which would be the music loving and jovial Ebisu. There are thousands of shrines across the country which feature this god of the sea but Miho is where it all began.
Ebisu is said to be a god Japanese origin unlike the many in both the Shinto and Buddhist spiritual systems that have their origins in India and China. One of the curious features of the Shrine is that hundreds of musical instruments have been donated by visitors, out of respect to Ebisu, including some which are rare and valuable.
Miho Shrine holds several annual events throughout the year, including the New Year’s Day ceremony, the Spring Equinox Festival and the Ebisu Festival. There is even a Kagura or traditional Shinto performance for the gods in September called Urayasu nomai.
Young women dressed in pristine kimono honor the gods in this ceremony that begins with a piercing Japanese flute which is followed by the rhythmic beating of drums and harmonized chanting. At this time, two women enter slowly carrying ornate bells. They move hypnotically in unison across the tatami mat floor.
The Mihonoseki Peninsula is full of wonderful places to explore. Visit the port area and the blue-green slate street with its Edo era buildings. Get the best view of the entire coastline from Mihonoseki Lighthouse and stroll through Gohonmatsu Park.
Access: From JR Matsue Station take the Ichibata Bus from JR Matsue Station to Mihonoseki Bus Terminal. Take the Mihonoseki Community Bus to Mihonoseki Harbor.
About the Area
Matsue is the vibrant capital city of Shimane Prefecture that has been shaped by its feudal heritage as a castle town and its unique location on Lake Shinji, Lake Nakaumi and the Japan Sea. The city center is dominated by the presence of Matsue Castle and its surrounding canals. This area is also a cultural zone as it is home to museums and historic quarters. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the city is from the water and there are several cruise companies that make this possible.
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