Among the several classes of shinto shrines in Japan, ranked according to importance and seniority, the taisha class is one of the highest, and one of the highest among the taisha shrines of Japan is the ancient Izumo Taisha, or Izumo Grand Shrine in Shimane prefecture on the north coast of Japan. It is so old that it’s founding predates Japanese written history and it is widely believed to be the first shrine in Japan, with its origins in the mythical beginnings of this country. In the old days this magnificent shrine was said to have been much bigger and the fact that archeaological digs have revealed pillars made up of three giant tree trunks each three meters in diameter makes this claim very believable. If it took that kind of trees to make just one out of dozens of pillars it must have been huge indeed. The building in these photos is merely the ceremonial performance hall for weddings and such, the Kaguraden, but the shimenawa, the giant straw rope hanging at the entrance is the biggest in Japan and is said to weigh about 5 tons. The rope is now the symbol of the shrine for most people around Japan. The red threads you can see if you look closely on the photos of the shimenawa are tied to five yen coins that have been thrown into the straw. If you get it in just right it will stick. As an interesting side note, the care takers of this shrine is said to be descendants of the first Gods of Japan and thus related to the Imperial family. The present head care taker is the 84th in line and took aver after the death of this father in 2002. Eighty four generations of the same family! Imagine that!