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No Women Allowed: This 'Sacred' Men-Only Island in Japan Is Up For UNESCO World Heritage Status

May 12, 2017 06:34 AM EDT
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Okinoshima
The Okinoshima island used to be where locals performed rituals and prayers. It’s home to Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya shrine.
(Photo : munakatakao/YouTube)

The new island that's being considered for UNESCO World Heritage status is a sacred Japanese spot with one caveat: women aren't allowed to step foot on it. The remote island of Okinoshima is an ancient religious locale in the Munakata region of Fukuoka Prefecture.

The Okinoshima island used to be where locals performed rituals and prayers. It's home to Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya shrine, which pays tribute to a goddess of the sea, according to a report from The Asahi Shimbun. The goddess is referenced in Nihon Shoki or The Chronicles of Japan, which is one of the country's oldest official history records going back to the eighth century.

Roughly 80,000 precious artifacts have been discovered on the island, most of it gifts from other countries such as gold rings from the Korean Peninsula and fragments of glass cups from Persia. The island has been dubbed the "Shosoin of the sea" because of the many treasures found here.

Strict rules are implemented on guests of this sacred island. Men need to take off their clothes and perform a cleansing ritual before entering. Meanwhile, no woman is allowed is even allowed on Okinoshima.

Those who do manage to step foot on the island cannot reveal details about their trip. They're also not allowed to bring back anything from the isle, even flowers or a single blade of grass.

The only residence of the island is an employee who oversees the shrine, New York Daily News reported.

According to a report from Japan Times, the UNESCO advisory body International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) notified Japan of their decision to recommend Okinoshima as a new World Heritage site. In July, the island could be officially endorsed at a meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Krakow, Poland.

If approved, Okinoshima will be the 17th Japanese site to be declared a cultural World Heritage site. Including natural sites, it will be the 21st.

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