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World Heritage Site

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Okinoshima Island

Okinoshima Island

The Sacred Island of Okinoshima has been a ritual site from the 4th – 9th century.

Ritual practices and votive offerings were made to pray for safety in navigating the seas, for boats heading to Korea and China to trade. The site includes three nearby islets, Koyajima, Mikadobashira and Tenguiwa, and 4 sites on and closer to Kyushu. There are a number of taboos and restrictions on visiting Okinoshima, including a ban of women and the prohibition “to speak of anything they have seen or heard on the Island”.

Map of Okinoshima Island


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Zoe Sheng China 12.10.17

Okinoshima Island by Zoe Sheng

Okinoshima AND RELATED SITES was just recently added to her UNESCO stable. As many already know, going to Okinoshima is not possible for but a few males and even now they are dicussing about making this sacred island visitor-free forever. One needs to understand that these sites were inscribed for cultural reasons and the untouched nature on Okinoshima is impossible to observe.

The other destinations are, however, not difficult to see. Question is if they are worth it though. For the regular Joe tourist there is absolutely nothing special to see. They are Shinto shrines like you see in many places. Have you been to Kyoto? You most likely saw better ones. Unless you are a religious person they don't offer you much value. There are no English signs and all tourist groups are Japanese.

The easiest one to see if just off Fukuoka by taking a half hour train to Togo and then a bus to the Hetsu-miya Shrine (Munakata Taisha actually). The bus will announce this in English. Ensure you know the bus schedule because the couple of buses that go here are very infrequent. If you want to see a bit more then take the bus all the way to the ferry port and take said ferry to Oshima Island. There is another similar Shrine but you also get to see some green island when hiking up the few minutes from the ferry stop.

All in all I don't recommend this trip unless you have a car or want to spend more than half a day just seeing shrines. Taking the car to Oshima is expensive and gains nothing by the way.

So here we have a new inscribed UNESCO with much cultural value but not much for tourists.

Read more from Zoe Sheng here.

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Site Info

Full name: Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region

Unesco ID: 1535

Inscribed: 2017

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   3  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2017 - Inscribed 


The site has 8 locations.

  • Okinoshima Island: Hetsu-miya, Munakata Taisha
  • Okinoshima Island: Koyajima
  • Okinoshima Island: Mikadobashira
  • Okinoshima Island: Nakatsu-miya, Munakata Taisha
  • Okinoshima Island: Okinoshima
  • Okinoshima Island: Okitsu-miya Yohaisho, Munakata Taisha
  • Okinoshima Island: Shimbaru-Nuyama Mounded Tomb Group
  • Okinoshima Island: Tenguiwa


6 community members have visited Okinoshima Island.