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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sacred Island of Okinoshima

Munakata Taisha Okitsu Shrine
The sacred Japanese island of Okinoshima in south-west Japan received UNESCO World Heritage listing last week on July 9, 2017.

The island was submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List back in 2009.

The culturally important island chronicles the progression of traditional worship rituals from the 4th to 9th centuries, which were conducted to pray for safe sea voyages.

Okinoshima is part of Munakata City in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, and is situated midway between the south-western island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.

Okinoshima is located between Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula

The entire island is considered a Shinto kami (god) with various religious sites and shrines dotted across it to appease the gods to protect the surrounding waters, which served as an important trade route in the region between China and Korea. The sacred island is off limits to women and male visitors must strip naked before going ashore. The island’s main shrine, Munakata Taisha Okitsu Shrine is carefully maintained by a single male employee.

Munakata Taisha Okitsu Shrine
Munakata Taisha Okitsu Shrine

The shrine located in the southwestern portion of Okinoshima was established in the mid-17th century as a sacred natural site. The shrine has gone through several repairs and rebuilding phases over the centuries with the current structure remaining in pretty much the same condition since the Showa Period (1926-1989).

The island covers an area of 97 ha (240 acres) with its highest peak reaching an elevation of 244 m (801 ft). Okinoshima is not currently open to the public and can only be viewed from a distance offshore.

Okinoshima from the sea
The sacred island of Okinoshima from the sea

Official Website

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