Saturday, 22 July, 2017

Japan's Okinoshima Island gains Unesco World Heritage status

The modernist architecture in Asmara the capital city of Eritrea also made the list REUTERS The modernist architecture in Asmara the capital city of Eritrea also made the list
Saul Franklin | 12 July, 2017, 00:41

A sacred island and three reefs as well as four other related sites in southwestern Japan were added to UNESCO's World Heritage list Sunday, the global body said.

Japan now has 21 World Heritage sites, including its four World Natural Heritage sites. "Integrated within the Grand Shrine of Munakata, the island of Okinoshima is considered sacred to this day".

About 80,000 dedicated items, including golden rings and bronze mirrors that were excavated after World War II, have been designated national treasures.

A World Heritage Site is an officially recognized landmark by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

To be awarded World Heritage status a site must be of outstanding universal value and must meet one of the ten selection criteria.

A Shinto priest is traditioned to pray to the island's goddess and this culture is being followed by since centuries. This photo is from September 30, 2016.

The island is considered sacred by the local Munakata Taisha and consists of a single employee of the shrine.

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The Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries spanning across more than 1,000 kilometres in Italy were also added, along with the Kujataa Greenland in Denmark, Mbanza Kongo in Angola, Asmara in Eritrea, and the ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape in South Africa.

Before they go ashore, they must observe centuries-old rituals, including removing their clothes and undergoing misogi - bathing naked in the sea to rid themselves of impurities. They are also not allowed to take back any souvenirs from the island.

A shrine on Okinoshima island, where only 200 visitors are allowed each year.

There has been no official explanation for this, but theories range from protecting women from the risky sea voyage to taboos surrounding menstruation.

A standout on the list was the men's-only island, Okinoshima which was added based upon its cultural significance.

Until such doubts are put to rest, the official website of The Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region states, "Okinoshima is situated on private land owned by Munakata Taisha, and it is a criminal offence to visit the island without permission from the shrine".

UNESCO, which "considers gender equality as a fundamental human right, a building block for social justice and an economic necessity", should be embarrassed of its actions of placing this Island even on its Tentative List of heritage sites.

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