It is also where, every year at the Kami-mukae-sai, all of the gods from around Japan are welcomed to Izumo Taisha, and the procession back to Izumo Taisha from the beach follows a path through town along the Kami Mukae Road.
Most people don't assume that I'm Japanese.
(For boys, it's celebrated at ages three and five.) It was the first time I can remember getting my makeup done, wearing beautiful in my hair, and enduring the hours-long process of having someone dress me in an ornate kimono.
(That's me, in the orange, and my twin sister in red.) I didn't appreciate the experience then — we spent hours taking photos at a local temple, and all I can remember is feeling hot and constricted in my tight sandals that were impossible to walk in — and how it felt to celebrate a holiday that I literally hadn't known about until earlier on that trip.
A large shrine gate, said to be the largest in Japan, towers over the main road to Izumo Taisha and welcomes visitors to the area.
Izumo Taisha is easily accessible by car, bus, or train, and the area around the shrine bustles with tourists and visitors to the shrine, especially on the weekends.
I didn't even really resemble my own twin sister, who — with her pale complexion and almond-shaped eyes — more closely takes after our father.
which translates to "Seven-Five-Three," a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls.
After all, with my medium-olive complexion, large, round eyes, and naturally wavy hair — all traits that I inherited from my mother, who is Puerto Rican — I recognize that I'm not exactly what people picture when they think of someone who is of partial East Asian descent, and I know this because I've been told so approximately a thousand times.
My last name (which means "star river" in Japanese) is sometimes a giveaway.