UNESCO grants world heritage status to Japan's 'men-only' Okinoshima island

Kristopher Drake
July 12, 2017

Four other related sites were added to the list as well.

The Munakata Taisha Okitsu shrine, which was established in the mid 17th-century, is located in the southwestern portion of Okinoshima.

Sunday's decision marks the fifth straight year that Japanese assets have been listed, bringing the total number of the country's items on the cultural and natural heritage list to 21.

The United Nations' education, science and culture branch has designated almost two dozen new locations as official World Heritage Sites in recent days, thus ensuring worldwide efforts will go toward their preservation.

The island is permanently manned by a Shinto priest who prays to the island's goddess, as dictated by their ancient traditions. This photo is from September 30, 2016.

The island of Okinoshima in Fukuoka, Japan joins 10 other new sites and two extensions on the list announced at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland on July 9.

The island is considered sacred by the local Munakata Taisha and consists of a single employee of the shrine.


Tourists are only welcome on the 700-square-metre island once a year, on 27 May, and no more than 200 people are allowed to visit the shrine. The sanctuary dates back to the 17th Century and is sacred to sailors.

Limited men are allowed on the island and they must also strip off and take a purifying dip in the ocean before they are allowed to set foot on the sacred ground of the shrine.

They can't take any souvenirs from the island with them when they leave - not even a blade of grass - and must never disclose details of their trip, the BBC reports.

The 700-square-metre island, along with three nearby reefs and four other related sites were given world heritage status at the United Nations body's annual summit in Krakow, Poland, on Sunday, bringing the number of Japanese cultural and natural sites on the list to 21.

The menstrual blood taboo in Shinto is believed to be influenced by the popularity of the Buddhist Blood Pond Sutra, a doctrine that preached that women were condemned to a blood pond hell for the sin of pollution through menstrual blood. This law is observed because apparently, it's considered unsafe for women to travel by sea to get to the island.

According to the UNESCO website, the historical structure of Yazd is a collection of public-religious architecture in a very large scope comprising of different Islamic architectural elements of different periods in a harmonious combination with climatic conditions.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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