Is The Sacred Okinoshima Island In Japan Biased On Women Visitors?
An island in Japan continues to follow Shinto religious tradition and requires its male visitors to undergo cleansing rituals. Women can never behold the beauty of the sacred island because they are not allowed to set foot on the island.
Men before arriving on Okinoshima Island have to strip naked and do the purification ritual. They cannot take any souvenirs with them -- even a blade of grass -- and cannot divulge the details of their trip, as per News.
For the Japanese, the whole Okinoshima Island located in Fukuoka is a holy ground inhabited by priests that work at the Okinoshima Shrines, which form part of the Munakata Grand Shrine. The priests were the ones that imposed the ban on women. A writer with the Japan Times explained that Shinto treats blood as unclean and might have connected it to women's monthly cycle. Another possible reason seen was the perils of sea journeys that are dangerous for women.
The Okinoshima Island is a refuge to seafarers and a place where they can offer valuable things like beads, mirrors and swords in exchange for travel protection. For the longest time, the island of Okinoshima has amassed almost 80,000 of these precious treasures that now form part of the nation's treasures.
UNESCO is now considering making the sacred island as a World Heritage site this year. However, this is not taken wholly by the island high priest because their ban on women might create problems being listed as one of the world's heritage sites for 2017.
At present, the Okinoshima Island gets only very limited visitors, mostly coming during the May 27 festival celebrated to "comfort the spirits" of the Japanese and Russian men who were killed in battle in the Sea of Japan back in 1905.
The ban on women was refuted by many, particularly of a Hindu group that objected on the island being considered a UNESCO heritage site unless it allows women to enter the island. The island's chief priest Takayuki Ashizu said that even if Okinoshima becomes a heritage site, they will still not open it to the public that mostly come for the purpose of curiosity.
Independent reported that if Okinoshima Island becomes listed by UNESCO, it will be the 17th of all Japanese cultural sites with a world heritage status. Historically, the island of Okinoshima has been a trade route by trade travelers from Japan to China between the 4th and 9th centuries.