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UNESCO / Sacred region Munakata


Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region


The sacred island of Okinoshima, situated between the Japanese archipelago and the Korean
peninsula, has long attracted the devotion of the local population in the Munakata region, who
possessed advanced nautical skills. Large-scale rituals utilizing an enormous quantity of precious
votive offerings were conducted on the island to pray for safe ocean voyages from the 4th to the
9th centuries, a period of more than 500 years during which overseas exchange occurred frequently
in East Asia.  

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  


Munakata Shrine Hetsu-gu

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 


  Torii Gate      


  Shrine main building


Takamiya Saijo

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 


Shinbaru-Nuyama Mounted Tombs

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



Munakata Shrine Nakatsu-gu

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.



Munakata Shrine Okitsu-gu Yohaisho

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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 - Blog, Munakata & Fukutsu travel guide, Fukuoka-prefecture, Fukutsu tour, Munakata tour, UNESCO World Heritage