In the rich tapestry of the world’s ancient history, there stands a mysterious island steeped in ritual and reverence – Okinoshima. Nestled between the islands of Kyushu and Honshu in Japan, Okinoshima Island carries a tradition that extends beyond the ordinary: men can visit the island, but only if they strip naked first.
Okinoshima Island , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been regarded as a sacred place since the 4th century, the era of the Yamato Dynasty. Serving as a critical hub for diplomatic and trade relations with the Korean Peninsula and China, it has been a witness to a mingling of cultures, prayers, and rituals.
Disrobing to Honor the Divine
The tradition of men stripping naked before stepping foot on Okinoshima is much more than an eccentric ritual; it’s rooted deeply in Shinto spirituality which sees this act as a ritual of purification . The purifying ritual , known as “Misogi,” involves men undressing completely to cleanse themselves from impurities before presenting themselves to the island’s deity, a goddess named Munakata Okitsugu-Mikoto.
Visitors to the island would bring a myriad of offerings, including mirrors, swords, and beads, which were thrown into the sea as a ritualistic offering to the deity. Today, over 80,000 artifacts have been recovered from the sea, presenting a tangible history of the sacred traditions practiced there.
Female Presence: A Forbidden Affair
Interestingly, women have been…