Okinoshima is a tiny island below South Korea, that belongs to the city of Munakata in Fukuoka, Japan.
The unique island has a population of one: the lone employee to the shrine which resides over the sacred land.
Okinoshima covers just 240 acres and rises 244m at its highest point.
But the most peculiar part of the island lies in its rules of entry, specifically who can and cannot step foot on its shores.
Women are completely banned from accessing the island due to an overarching religious tradition.
Okinoshima is considered a shinto kami, which adheres to an ancient Japanese religion focusing on diligent rituals.
The priests who work on the island enforce the female entry ban, but the exact reason why it exists remains shrouded in mystery.
According to the Japan Times, it might have something to do with women having periods.
Rio Hashimoto said: “There are varying explanations for the ban, but some say it is because menstruation would defile the site.
“Shinto treats blood as an impurity.”
Another theory is that traveling to the island by boat used to be extremely dangerous and so women were forbidden from going as a protection offering.
Even for men, access to Okinoshima is difficult. All visitors must strip naked and take part in a purification ritual before they arrive.
They are only allowed to visit one day per year, on May 27, to celebrate a festival dating back to 1905.
No one can take anything from the island upon leaving, not even one piece of grass.
Another condition for entering is to keep the details of your visit a secret when returning to the outside world.
The island is so precious that UNESCO is considering granting it World Heritage status in July.
Takayuki Ashizu, chief priest of the Munakata Grand Shrine told the Japan Times: “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.”
The island is also home to some 80,000 trinkets left by sailors who stopped there to pray on trade missions dating all the way back to the fourth century.
Beads, mirrors, swords and other ornaments that remain on Okinoshiwa are now considered national treasures.
In 2015 the UK was awarded its own UNESCO honour, when Forth Bridge in Scotland became a World Heritage Site.
Source : EXPRESS