Lizard Rock clings to the steep cliff to the northwest of Mt. Washigamine (563 m) in the eastern part of Oki-Dogo Island in the offing of Shimane Prefecture. Clearly, the rock looks like a giant lizard climbing the precipice.
You can get a first view of the rock from the point on the Shizenkaiki-no-mori walking trail, 50 m away from the parking lot located at the end of Nakabayashi Forest Road. The best viewing point is the observation deck further 100 m ahead from there, where a bower and the description board are built.
Lizard Rock was formed by the erosion occurred onto the rock surface of different properties. As the result of such erosion, the lizard-shaped part, about 30 m in total length, remained on the cliff. It is a scientifically precious natural phenomenon.
It is said that one of the forepaws dropped off due to an earthquake some years ago. The lizard will continue changing its shape with the course of time from now on.
Kabura-sugi is a huge cedar tree in the Nakamura area on Dogo, the main island of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. It was prefecturally designated as a natural monument in 1968.
The directions are: Drive to the north along National Route 485 from Saigo Port and turn right into Prefectural Road 316 and go toward Choshi Dam. After passing by the dam and through a tunnel, you can see the tree on your right.
This huge cedar tree is presumably 600 years old, about 40 m in height, and about 10 m in trunk circumference. The trunk grows into 6 sub-trunks at the height of 1.5 m from the base. It is said that it had 12 sub-trunks until the early Showa period (1926-1989).
It was named so, because one theory states that the tree looks like Kaburaya (whistling-bulb arrows), while another states that the name derived from a Japanese term “kabudachi,” which means a tree divided into several trunks. View it from the distance, from up close, or look it up, you may be able to get a message from this aged tree.
The Kumi kagura dance has been handed down at Ise Mikoto Shrine in the Kumi area on Oki-Dogo Island. It was derived from the Ochi kagura dance that has been performed on the islands of Oki. The Kumi kagura dance is prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property. It is dedicated at an annual festival held at Ise Mikoto Shrine on July 25th in the years ending with even numbers and 26th in the years with odd numbers.
The kagura dances in the Oki Islands are usually performed by the people called Shake (hereditary kagura dance performers). However, the Kumi kagura was handed down to the local worshippers from the Wada family, the successor of this kagura in the Aburai area, in 1889, since when it has been performed by local people.
The dances are performed all through the night from 9:00 P.M. till the dawn of the following day. The repertoire includes “Miko-mai (the dance by shrine maidens),” which is typical to this kagura, gallant “Sarutahiko-no-mai,” and humorous “Taizuri (Sea Beam Fishing).” The combination of dynamic dancing and colorful costumes gives a deep impression on the spectators.
Amidst the dances, a small banquet ritual called “Nusa-no-sakazuki” is held, where the dancers and the directors of the shrine parishioners’ board are served with sake wine.
Nishimura Kagura, or also called Mugi (Wheat) Kagura, has been passed down in the Nishimura area on Oki-Dogo Island, Shimane Prefecture. It is designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the town of Okinoshima.
Nishimura Kagura used to be performed on June 4 on the old calendar, when each family of the village brought 1 go (about 150g) of wheat to the shrine and invited 3 Shake families (hereditary kagura dance performing families) from 3 areas on the island and asked them to dedicate the kagura dances.
However, Nishimura Kagura was handed down to the people in the Nishimura area from the Murakami Shake family, the successor of this kagura in the Togo area, in 1950. Since then it has been performed by the people in Nishimura in August, when many family members return home for the bon rituals.
Today, the Nishimura Kagura Preservation Society has been organized by volunteers and shrine priests to pass down a variety of distinctive plays to the future generations.
Oki Muramatsuri Furyu is held on October 19 every two years in Nakamura on Dogo, the main island of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. It is one of the three large festivals on the Oki Islands and prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.
The festival dates back to the early Kamakura period (1192-1333), when Sasaki Sadatsuna was appointed governor of Oki province. He transferred the gods of the sun and the moon from Omi province, his native country, and enshrined the god of the sun at Hachioji Shrine in Motoya and the god of the moon at Jorakuji Temple (later transferred to Ichinomori Shrine) in Nakamura. He, then, performed a festival in hope of a rich harvest by fusing the power of Yin and yang.
On the festival day, the processions carrying the gods leave the two shrines and head for the meeting place, where the ritual to unite the gods of the sun and the moon is performed. After that, various performances such as the salutation by Gyoji (sumo referee) wearing armors, Onmyo-douchi (the Yin-yang drum performance) by young men wearing makeup, Kozuma (the holy sumo tournament) by children and Urate, the sumo-dance by young men are dedicated one after another. The festival ends with the horseback archery. All are performed in accordance with ancient rituals, which make the spectators slip into delusion of seeing a history picture scroll.
Donto Festival is held on January 15 every year in the Imazu area in the southern end of Oki-Dogo Island. Donto, or Dondo in some districts, is the festival, in which ornaments for New Year’s Day are burned in the bon fire in hope of good health in the coming year. Donto Festival has been handed down in Imazu since the Heian period (794-1192).
Early in the morning on the festival day, people with colorful bags in their hands get together on the beach. They carefully put Ofuda (talismans) and New Year’s ornaments on the huge fire-stage called Donto, build up of bamboo poles. After a large streamer is put on the stage, piled straw is set on fire and burn up into a huge column of fire.
When the bamboo poles are burned down and fall into the sea, young men divided into East and West teams and wearing only loincloths dive into the frigid sea and struggle for the burned bamboo poles. At the end of the festival, the bamboo poles are carried to the houses that had blessed events in the previous year.
This festival is held at Oyama Shrine in Fuse on Oki-Dogo Island in Shimane Prefecture on the first Day of Ox in April every year. The origin of the shrine is not clear. It has no shrine pavilion housing the deity but it enshrines the old cedar tree, which is some hundred years old.
It is said that Oyama Shrine Festival was first held by a mountain practitioner hundreds of years ago. According to the historical record of the festival written in 1825 by a mountain practitioner in Fuse village, it seems that the festival had already been performed hundreds of years before.
Locally called “Oyama-san” or “Yama-matsuri,” the festival is the event that tells people of the coming of spring. It is nationally designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
On the day before the festival, villagers perform the ritual called Obitachi-no-shinji (the belt cutting ritual), in which they go into the nearby mountain to cut out vine stems, which are put around the sacred cedar tree, and parade through the village carrying a large sakaki (a holy branch). On the following festival day, the Obishime-no-shinji (fastening belt) ritual is held, in which the vine stem is put around the sacred tree seven and a half times.
Gokasozuka in Nakazato on Oki-Nakanoshima Island, Shimane Prefecture, is the site where Retired Emperor Go-Toba was cremated and buried.
In 1221 during the Kamakura period, Retired Emperor Go-Toba rebelled against the Kamakura Shogunate (known as the Jokyu War). He was defeated and banished to the Oki Islands, where he stayed at Genpukuji Temple for 18 years and died in despair and hopelessness in 1239 at the age of 60.
His body was cremated and buried in Katsutayama, the back hill of the temple, while and a part of the ashes were brought back to Kyoto. The mausoleum was built at the site and it has been taken good care of by local people.
Next to the mausoleum is Oki Shrine enshrining Retired Emperor Go-Toba and things pertaining to the emperor are displayed in the history museum in front of the shrine.