Some of major shrines in Japan enshrine the gods of “Enmusubi”, which generally means the connections between a man and a woman, that is, a marriage. Particularly young couples and women visit such shrines to pray to the gods of matchmaking that they will be able to have a happy marriage.
The faith started as it was believed that there were supernatural forces by the gods to link people. Although it is not certain exactly when such belief began, there are many shrines throughout the country which are known as the homes of “Enmusubi” deities.
The phrase “Enmusubi” comes with two words – “en” and “musubi.” The word “en” has a much broader meaning than marriage. It refers to the all connections that people make with others during a lifetime, such as families, friends, jobs and so on. “Musubi” means to tie or connect. There is a practice considered fortunate that visitors of these shrines tie, or “musubu”, a five yen coin with a piece of red string. Five yen is pronounced as “goen” in Japanese. It is interesting that there is a similar English expression, “tie the knot”, referring to a marriage.
The most well-known shrine for “enmusubi” is Izumo Oyashiro, or more commonly known as Izumo Taisha, in the city of Izumo in Shimane prefecture. According to ancient myths, all of the gods across the country got together in Izumo in the tenth month of the lunar calendar. The gods are said to have discussed what sort of connections each person in respective regions would have in the coming year. In the lunar year, October is named “Kannazuki”, which literally means the month of no gods. Izumo Taisha gained national spotlight in last October when Princess Noriko tied the knot with a son of the head priest at the shrine.
Learn Japanese History
Learn Japanese Culture