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This Sacred Men-Only Island In Japan Is Now A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Do they sit around and play video games all day?


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This Sacred Men-Only Island In Japan Is Now A UNESCO World Heritage Site
Image: visitkochijapan.com

If you ever feel the need to have some 'me' time away from your spouse, there's now an island you can go to in Japan.

The tiny island of Okinoshima is now listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the agency announced on Sunday.

The 0.8square kilometer sacred island, located off the coast of Japan’s southern-most island of Kyushu, is the home to three small sacred Shinto shrines, which is a part of the Munakata Grand Shrine. 

Between the 4th and the 9th century, it was a thriving trade island, as the waters surrounding it was reportedly an important trade route for Japan to China as well as the Korean Peninsula. According to the Japan Times, the Chinese and the Koreans would meet up on the island to trade.

Traders would also pray to the Shinto gods at the shrine to guard the ships.

Currently, the island's population is just one: a Shinto priest who prays to the island's goddess. 

Not your typical island getaway.Well, before you book your flight tickets and plan a trip to Okinoshima with your girlfriends, there's one tiny detail to consider: only men are allowed to step foot on the island.

Ladies, calm down; there's a good explanation for this.

Women are not permitted to visit the island due to the Shinto tradition which has been around for centuries, and it "has nothing to do with discrimination against women," a UNESCO representative told the AFP.

According to the representative, the men wanted to protect the women - the child-bearers, in a way - as it is reportedly considered dangerous for women to travel by sea to the island.

So, it's for your own good, ladies.

Not all can see this shrine.As for the men, they have to adhere to a set of very strict rules if they want to visit Okinoshima.

First, they have to make sure that they get a spot on the island, as only a limited number of people can step foot on the island at one time (this year, according to AFP, is 200). Then, they have to hold on to their flight/bus/ferry tickets until 27 May, the only day they can travel to the island. 

Once they are there, they have to strip naked and perform a cleansing ritual before making their way to the shrines.

When they leave, they are not allowed to take anything with them off the island and when they go back to civilisation, they must not speak of the trip.

Rules. Rules, everywhere!
Umm, we think we'll just stick to our trip to the Royal Belum State Park lah, which by the way, was also nominated to obtain the UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

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