Japanese island where only men are allowed makes United Nations heritage list

Japanese island where only men are allowed makes United Nations heritage list

An island where men have to strip naked and women are not allowed is one of the latest sites to be listed on Unesco's World Heritage List.

Okinoshima is located some 60 kilometers off the coast of Fukuoka Prefecture in the Genkai Sea. Thousands of precious artefacts have been found at the shrine, including gold jewellery from the Korean Peninsula and glass from Persia.

Priests from Munakata Taisha, a group of Shinto shrines, are in principle permitted to travel to worship at the island's 17th century shrine.

There are numerous taboos associated with the island. A cleansing ritual in which clothes are removed is required by all men who visit the island and when the visitors leave they are not allowed to disclose any specifics of their visit or take away any sort of souvenirs.

One of the shrines on Okinoshima island in Japan is a new UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Okinoshima's approach to gender segregation did not constitute a sufficient reason to prevent the island from becoming a World Heritage site, according to UNESCO spokesperson Roni Amelan. The sixteenth such site was registered in 2016, with the recognition of the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo as part of The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement.

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Africa has several new sites on the United Nations world heritage list, including an old royal capital in Angola, the Eritrean capital of Asmara and a desert area in South Africa that was inhabited during the Stone Age.

The added treasure is home to the Okitsu shire and according to Shinto customs, women are not allowed visit the island.

Sunday's decision marks the fifth straight year that Japanese assets have been listed, bringing the total number of the country's items on the cultural and natural heritage list to 21. Men are allowed only one visit per year.

The sacred Japanese island, among several added in 2017 to the prestigious list of monuments with historical significance, is prohibited to women.

Koichiro Matsuura, a former head of UNESCO, said that it was rare for the body to approve an island that played a religious role as part of World Heritage and that the listing has great significance.

While talking to Japan Times previous year, Takayuki Ashizu, the chief priest at Munakata Taisha said, "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".

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