Male-only Island now UNESCO World Heritage site

Male-only Island now UNESCO World Heritage site
Photo Credit To Ippei/Janine Naoi

There is some good news for the men on the male-only Island of Okinoshima and no, it is not an influx of women. The small island located in Fukuoka, which is also an island of historic and cultural importance has just been given World Heritage status by UNESCO.


The male-only island forbids women from setting foot on it and even then, men can only go on specific dates. The island itself is home to the Okitsu-gu shrine to Shinto sea kami (Japanese gods) with the island itself being considered a kami. Whilst the bestowed status is positive, the chief priest and sole denizen of the island have in the past stated that it should not make the island a “tourist” hotspot. He maintains that if people visit Okinoshima, it should be for deeper purpose and meaning than just a few camera snaps. The hallowed grounds have been treasure troves for archaeologists over the years with various finds being unearthed over the years.

There is currently no known reason as to why the shrine states that women are forbidden from visiting the island. Various theories have been hypothesized such as menstruation defiling the sacred grounds or the voyage being too dangerous historically for “child-bearers”. Whilst the World Heritage title is a positive for the future of the island, one thing remains uncertain, will women ever be able to visit Okinoshima?

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