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A sacred island shrouded in mystery and ritual

A solitary monk lives on Okinoshima, an island and UNESCO World Heritage Site some 60 kilometers off the coast of Fukuoka Prefecture . With the exception of a single day, visitors are strictly forbidden here.

Okinoshima is just under one square kilometer in size, but its place in Japanese history far outstrips its physical dimensions.

Quick Facts

The island's lone inhabitant is one of about two dozen Shinto priests who spend 10-day intervals here, praying and guarding against intruders

Up to 200 men can travel to the island on May 27 to remember the Japanese and Russian service personnel who died in battle in the Sea of Japan in 1905

How to Get There

The island is not connected by any form of public transport. However, every year a small festival is held, and around 200 men are allowed to visit the island.

World Heritage history

Okinoshima is home to one of the three Munakata Taisha shrines associated with Munakata City , and is generally off-limits to the public. However, every year there is a festival in which approximately 200 men are allowed to visit the island. Unfortunately, it is forbidden for women to visit under any circumstances.

Munakata Taisha Shrine

The island's only inhabitant is a monk employed by Munakata Taisha Shrine to maintain Okitsu-gu Shrine, located in the southwest part of the island. The shrine was established in the mid-17th century and has been in much the same condition since it was last rebuilt in 1932.

Numerous artifacts

The island gained status as a UNESCO World Heritage site on July 9, 2017 along with two other Munakata Shrines associated with Munakata City .

Around 80,000 artifacts brought as gifts from overseas have been found on the island, some dating to the first millennia have been found on the island, which was a popular trading stop on the route between South Korea and Fukuoka Prefecture .

The artifacts include gold rings from the Korean Peninsula. Since their discovery, these artifacts have been declared national treasures and are now housed at Hetsu-miya Shrine.

Rules to heed

In the rare case of being allowed to visit Okinoshima, before setting foot on the island, you must first take off your clothes and undergo a cleansing ritual. When leaving, you are not allowed to take away any souvenirs, including small objects such twigs, pebbles, or blades of grass. You also are not allowed to disclose any details of your visit.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.


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