Munakata Taisha Nakatsu-Gu In Ohshima Island

This is the entry inspired by the decision made by The World Heritage Committee held in Krakow in July, 2017. "Sacred island of Okinoshima and associated sites in the Munakata" is now in UNESCO's world heritage site list!

Okinoshima Island (沖ノ島) is located midway between the Kyushu island and the Korean peninsula. The sacred island, along with three nearby reefs and four other related sites were given world heritage status at the UN body’s annual summit in Krakow, Poland.

Okinishima is 97 hectares (240 acres) island invisible in the scale of this map...

In principle, Okinoshima is owned by Munakata Grand shrine (宗像大社) and only the shinto priest can reside in the sacred island. No women are ever permitted to land Okinoshima. It could be due to the fact that enshrined deity, Tagirihime (タギリヒメ)" is a female deity who are jealous at the same gender... If you are a man, there is a only one way to land. Until this year, only 200 jackpod "male" winners are permitted to land for attending the annual ritual ceremony that takes place on the 27th of May. The chance is only once a year!!!!

You may wonder why on 27th of May???

Because it's one day after my birthday...  


Tsushima battle in 1905 (Image from Wikipedia)

The data is set based on the fact that in 1905 the then-shinto priest eyewitnessed the battle of Tsushima (or Naval Battle of the Sea of Japan), a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). 

On my birthday, 26th of May, 200 lucky men who are blessed by Tagirihime female shinto deity get together in Ohshima island (大島), located between Okinoshima and Kyushu, and stay one night there. Everybody can land on Ohshima island and all the photos I posted here were taken in Ohshima island where Munakata Taisha Nanatsu-gu (宗像大社中津宮) is located. Next day, they head for Okinoshima island. Before they go ashore, they must observe centuries-old rituals, including taking their clothes off and undergoing misogi ()– bathing naked in the sea to rid themselves of impurities (see video above!!!). 

They are prohibited from taking home mementoes, including small objects such twigs, pebbles and blades of grass, according to the island’s websiteThe objective of permitting 200 men in sacred island is to honour sailors who died in a nearby naval battle during the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese war.

After visiting Ohshima island, landing on Okinoshima sacred island became one of my "must visit" destination list.

However, Takayuki Ashizu, the chief priest at Munakata Taisha, said the ban on tourism – and women – would stay in place, despite a flood of inquiries from travel agencies.

We wouldn’t open Okinoshima to the public even if it is inscribed on the Unesco cultural heritage list, because people shouldn’t visit out of curiosity.” Ashizu told the Japan Times last year... 

Oh, well. One of my dream's over.... 
Hang on. There are two ways to land Okinoshima. One is to be a shinto priest at Munakata shrine and the second is to be a scholar in shinto history and land for research! 

It takes 15- 25 min to get to Ohshima island by ferry from mainland Kyushu island (time table is available only in Japanese here). It costs ¥560 JPY one way (adult).

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Okinoshima is permanently manned by a Shinto priest who prays to the island’s goddess. Very much devotion. Is this shrine a private property maintained by the priest and he sets the rules or is it a Government property and the priest is only an employee.I request a reply
    Dr S Sundaramoorthy,FRSPH (London)
    Chennai city, India


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