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Travel News Munakata shrines designated World Heritage Site 2017

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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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The island of Okinoshima off the coast of Fukuoka and several associated sites in the Munakata Region have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites in July 2017. Unlike other Japanese world heritage sites accessing the shrines won't be easy:

While the status would gain the island international name recognition and likely attract interest from travelers, many tourists would face obstacles: Women are not allowed to step foot on the island. And the priests who live on the island only allow men to visit one day a year.

The 197-acre island is steeped in Shinto religious tradition. It’s home to the Okitsu shrine, one of three small shines (on separate neighboring islands) that together constitute the Munakata Grand Shrine. These shrines honor three deities which, as legend has it, were the children of Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the god of sea and storms, according to the Japan Times. The Okitsu shrine, for example, honors the goddess Tagorihime.

Source: A Japanese island that excludes women may soon be a UNESCO World Heritage site - The Washington Post

Sacred men-only island set to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status

Okinoshima is home to the Okitsu shrine, part of the Munakata Grand Shrine. Oshima, meanwhile, hosts the Nakatsu shrine while the Munakata region on Kyushu’s mainland is home to the Hetsu shrine. Both the Nakatsu and Hetsu shrines are also part of the grand shrine.

The Shinbaru-Nuyama tumulus complex, a burial ground of the Munakata clan that presided over religious rituals in the region, was also examined by ICOMOS but did not make the final cut.

Okinoshima was the site of numerous rituals involving prayers for the safety of oceangoing ships and successful exchanges with the people of the Korean Peninsula and China between the fourth and ninth centuries.

Some 80,000 artifacts brought as gifts from overseas have been uncovered on the island, including gold rings from the Korean Peninsula and glass cup fragments believed to have come from Persia. These items have all been designated as national treasures.

On the island, strict taboos from ancient times are still followed, including a controversial ban on women from entering it. Men setting foot on the island are first required to strip all clothes and perform a cleansing ritual.

Source: Sacred men-only island set to be granted UNESCO World Heritage status | The Japan Times

Kyushu isle makes World Heritage list as a full package deal


Kyushu isle makes World Heritage list as a full package deal:The Asahi Shimbun

Official website: The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region | Top page (in English)

Location (zoom out to see Munakata Region):

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