This Japanese Island Only Allows Men, Naked Ones
Spare a thought for the single man who lives full-time on Okinoshima that, due to Shinto religious tradition, is completely off-limits to women.
Okinoshima, a little-known Japanese island located in Fukuoka, has a population consisting of just one man, who is employed as a guardian of the island's religious temple.
When a male visitor is granted access to the sacred site, they have to strip naked and be 'purified' in a formal ceremony: think a university rugby team initiation ceremony, only acted out in homage to Kami spirits.
Credit: Google Maps
It is claimed that the ban on women setting foot on the landmass comes from folk stories that claimed women were turned to stone if they neared the island's 17th century Okitsu-gu shrine.
Historians have also claimed that it is believed that women's menstruation 'would defile the site' as Shinto treats blood as an impurity.
Credit: Google Maps
The Japan Times reports that people living near to the island deeply respect the sacredness of Okinoshima, which they know as 'an island where gods reside'.
Okinoshima is owned by the Munakata Taisha Shrine and it usually only allows its priests to land on the island. However, an exception is made during an annual festival when about 200 men are given permission to land.
The site has been put forward for the Unesco World Heritage List, meaning it could become a tourist hot spot in future. However, the chief priest at Munakata Taisha, Takayuki Ashizu, is opposed to seeing Okinoshima become a tourist destination.
"We wouldn't open Okinoshima to the public even if it is inscribed on the UNESCO cultural heritage list because people shouldn't visit out of curiosity," Ashizu said.
However some are in favour of the bid, Tadashi Nishitani, honorary professor of archaeology at Kyushu University believes that applying for inscription on the UNESCO list is aimed at preserving the cultural heritage of the site.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee will decide whether to add the sites to its World Cultural Heritage list based on findings in autumn of this year.
Featured Image Credit: Google Maps