island in Fukuoka, Japan

Okinoshima (沖ノ島) is an island in Fukuoka prefecture of Japan. It is home to an extremely sacred Shinto shrine and is notoriously almost impossible to get into— in fact, no women whatsoever are allowed on the island.

Understand edit

The Island from a distance, which is as close as you’re likely to experience it

The island is considered to be a kami (god), hence why it is so sacred. The prohibition on women may originate from the belief that menstruation is ritually impure. There are few disputes because the whole island is privately owned by the shrine.

History edit

In 2017 the island was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Landscape edit

The island is fairly rugged and heavily forested.

Flora and fauna edit

The island is considered an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International.

Climate edit

Humid subtropical like most of Japan.

Get in edit

Purifying ceremony

It is very difficult to get permission to visit this island, with the custodians insisting that "people shouldn't visit out of curiosity". Additionally there is a ban on females visiting at all.

If you get permission to visit, then a purifying ceremony must be undertaken by stripping naked and walking through the sea (called misogi).

See edit

Okitsu shrine
  • Munakata Taisha Okitsu shrine (宗像大社沖津宮). Built in the 17th century.
  • 1 Okinoshima Lighthouse (沖ノ島灯台).

Do edit

If by some miracle you get into the island you are most likely there for religious or scientific purposes. Tourism is neither wanted nor tolerated by the island’s caretakers.

Buy edit

It is unlikely you will be buying anything here.

Respect edit

The island, being so sacred, has many taboos that must be obeyed. Besides the most famous and obvious (prohibition of women), you must not remove anything whatsoever from the island or discuss anything about your stay with outsiders.

Go next edit

The island is off the coast of the city of Munakata in Fukuoka Prefecture. This is less likely to be where you “go next” and more likely to be as close as you’ll ever get, certainly if you’re female.

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