Okinoshima: This Japanese Island is Off-limits for Women
Okinoshima, a small remote Japanese island bans women from entering it. The island is considered a sacred ground and even men who enter have to go there naked, and cannot take anything out of the island, not even a leaf. The island is a part of Munakata city, Fukuoka.
Just like menstruation is considered “impure” in India, and women aren’t allowed to enter temples and kitchens, this island follows the same ‘logic’.
Today the island consists only of priests, who continue to enforce this ban on women. Just like menstruation is considered “impure” in India, and women aren’t allowed to enter temples and kitchens, this island follows the same ‘logic’. The island is rooted deep in Shinto religious traditions, which considers blood as impure. Since the island is considered sacred and is only occupied by priests, it can be considered impure for women to enter because of menstruation. Another reason could be that it takes a long time and a scary sea journey to get to the island and that the men are only trying to protect the women from this.
The island of Okinoshima will be given the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July.
It’s home to the Okitsu shrine. There are over 80,000 precious items that Okinoshima has collected over the last few centuries, and these items are considered a national treasure.
Currently, the island gets very few visitors in a year, but there is a worry about the island becoming known to the world because of UNESCO. A lot of people would want to visit the island, especially women. A chief priest of the Munakata Grand Shrine of the Okinoshima island told the Japan Times, “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.”
It is surprising to see other countries hold outdated traditions, and treat women like another species altogether. However, here’s hoping that UNESCO calling it a World Heritage site would change things for the better.
Pic credits: Green Shinto