UNESCO / Sacred region Munakata
Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region
Ritual sites bearing witness to the successive phases of ancient rituals that chronicle the formation
of indigenous beliefs in Japan have survived to the present almost intact, because the island of
Okinoshima, as an object of worship, has been protected by established taboos strictly limiting
access to the island.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Hetsu-gu is one of the three shrines that comprise Munakata Shrine and enshrines
Ichikishimahime-no-Kami, one of the three female deities of Munakata. Visitors passing
through the torii gate and proceeding along the path will find the Main Hall, dedicated to
Ichikishimahime-no-Kami, beyond the Shinmon gate
Shrine main building
The steps lead to Takamiya Saijo (Ceremonial Site), where ancient rituals were performed.
Takamiya Saijo is very important since the rituals currently observed at Hetsu-gu originated there.
To the northwest of the ceremonial site, visitors can view the marine route linking Hetsu-gu with
Okinoshima via the Tsurikawa River, Oshima, and finally across the Genkai Sea.
Entrance of Takamiya Saijo
Worship at Takamiya Saijo
Takamiya Saijo Japan’s oldest
Ancient style Shrine
The Tomb Group comprises the tombs of the Munakata clan, an ancient powerful family that led
interactions with overseas countries. The Munakata clan also performed rituals on Okinoshima
and nurtured the tradition of faith in in the sacred island
Nakatsu-gu, one of the three shrines that comprise Munakata Taisha, is situated on this island and
enshrines Tagitsuhime-no-Kami, one of the Three Goddesses of Munakata.
Because Okinoshima has long been an object of worship, public access to the island is strictly limited.
The Okinoshima landscape has been preserved intact until now because local people have strictly
observed various taboos. For example, even if one is allowed to land on the island, one is forbidden
to speak a word about what one has seen or heard there; and one must never take anything from the
island, not even a twig, blade of grass, or pebble.
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