You can soon visit this sacred Japanese island – but not if you’re a woman
Okinoshima Island in Japan. Photo from Facebook/Tonino D’arienzo.

You can soon visit this sacred Japanese island – but not if you’re a woman

TOKYO — There’s an island in Japan that’s so sacred, so revered that local officials are hoping that tourists will want to see it for themselves. The only problem? No women allowed.

According to, Okinoshima, a seldom-visited island off the southwest coast of Japan, has been recommended for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site, not for its breathtaking views or lush foliage but for its religious relevance. You see, it’s home to Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya, a sacred shrine that honours a Japanese goddess of the sea.

To appease the goddess, the island – which has plans to open to tourists – follows strict religious rules that date back to the 4th century. These include the ban of all women from ever stepping foot on the territory. Despite being weeks away from possibly obtaining World Heritage status (the ruling will be made in July), Munakata officials say there are no plans to lift the gender ban.

Though lucky to be able to gain access, male tourists must succumb to a mandatory nude cleansing ritual upon arrival, and are strictly prohibited from removing any object – whether it be a pebble or scoop of sand – from the island. Plus, upon their return home, they must never disclose the details of their trip.

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