A coastal city and former trading hub famed for its World Heritage Munakata shrines

Munakata lies to the northeast of the city of Fukuoka and is home to three World Heritage Munakata shrines . Two of these shrines lie within the bounds of Munakata City, while the third and oldest is on the forbidden island of Okinoshima .

Quick Facts

Okitsumiya Shrine on Okinoshima is off-limits to the public

Munakata was once a major trading hub

Hetsumiya Shrine is the largest of the three

How to Get There

From Fukuoka, take a local or rapid train along the JR Kagoshima Main Line from Fukuoka's Hakata Station to Togo Station.
If you're coming from Kitakyushu , take a local or rapid train along the JR Kagoshima Main Line from Kokura Station to Togo Station.

Old wealth, old shrines

In its early history, Munakata prospered as a trading hub due to its sheltered coastline and its proximity to mainland Asia. Through to the 9th century, the trade routes were controlled by the Munakata clan, who also governed the region's religious sites.

The three Munakata Taisha shrines have received World Heritage status. The oldest is on Okinoshima , Okitsumiya Shrine, but access is prohibited to the public, and the island is inhabited by a solitary monk.

Nakatsumiya Shrine is located on the island of Oshima, just off the coast of Kyushu, and the present shrine buildings date back to the 16th century. The shrine is a five-minute walk up the hill from the ferry port, and you can continue from the shrine to the top of Mt. Mitake.

Ferries depart to Oshima from the port of Konominato every one or two hours.

Hetsumiya Shrine is the largest and most easily visited of the three shrines. The current shrine buildings have their foundations in the 12th century, but it is believed that the site was used for some of the earliest Shinto practices in the 7th or 8th centuries.

Within the shrine grounds is the Shinpokan Museum, which contains thousands of artifacts discovered on Okinoshima , many of which date back to the early periods of trade between Japan and mainland Asia.

Keywords

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