Men-only island pitched for UNESCO World Heritage status


DUBAI: A Japanese island which women are banned from setting foot upon has been recommended as a possible UNESCO World Heritage site, the BBC reported Monday.
For religious reasons, Okinoshima, which lies in south-western Japan, can only be visited by men, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reports.
The newspaper adds that visitors are not allowed to bring back anything to remember the island by, not even blades of grass.
Male visitors are required to strip naked and perform a cleansing ritual when they reach the island and cannot speak about the details of their visit.
The island has been recommended for World Heritage status by an advisory panel but the final decision is set to be made at a UNESCO meeting in July.
The island is home to the Munakata Taisha Okitsumiya shrine, which honors the goddess of the sea who oversees the safety of ships, according to Japanese tradition.
The Japan Times reports that the island was the focal point of exchange and trade with the people of the Korean Peninsula and China between the fourth and ninth centuries.
The ban on women and the strictly regulated visits are unlikely to change, according to one official.
“Our stance will remain unchanged even if it’s registered in the World Heritage list,” a Munakata Taisha official told the Mainichi Daily, “We’ll continue to strictly regulate visits to the island.”