Simbaru-Nuyama Mounded Tomb Group

The people of Munakata, with their advanced nautical skills, performed the ancient rituals on Okinoshima while taking part in overseas exchanges.
 In performing state-sponsored rituals, they began to worship the Three Goddesses of Munakata at the three shrines of Munakata Taisha.
The Shimbaru-Nuyama Mounded
The Shimbaru-Nuyama Mounded Tomb Group

The Shimbaru-Nuyama Mounded Tomb Group, which was constructed with an ocean orientation from the 5th to the 6th centuries, offers tangible evidence for the existence of Munakata's inhabitants at that time, who developed the living cultural tradition of worshipping the sacred island.
 The Munakata region forms an integrated sea space that links Kyushu, where a large sea inlet once existed, with Okinoshima and Oshima, which is situated between them.

宗像地域の入海範囲と大型古墳の分布
Ancient sea inlets and large scale mounded tombs
Site 25
Site 25
Site 22
Site 22
Site 7
Site 7

The Shimbaru-Nuyama Mounded Tomb Group is located beside the farmland that was once a sea inlet, on a plateau overlooking the sea that stretches out toward Okinoshima.
 It consists of both large and small burial mounds, including keyhole-shaped, round, and square mounded tombs built close together along the plateau.

Site 34 to 38
Site 34 to 38
Site 12
Site 12

Tradition of Worshipping

The ritual sites and natural environment of Okinoshima have been preserved almost intact to the present day because of their geographical location, which dees easy access, and local religious traditions such as strict taboos that protect the sacred island.
 The ancient faith in Okinoshima survives to this day. Okitsu-miya Yohaisho, which had been built on the northern shore of Oshima by the 18th century, is the place from which to worship Okinoshima, which people are not normally allowed to visit. It functions as a hall for worshipping the sacred island from afar.

Okitsu-miya Yohaisho
Okitsu-miya Yohaisho

The Munakata Daiguji (high priest) family, which prospered through its engagement with international trade, continued the tradition of worship at Munakata Taisha when ancient rituals were no longer performed there.
 Even since the family's lineage was interrupted at the end of the 16th century, priests and local people have supported the tradition to this day.
 The people of Munakata have long fished the waters near Okinoshima, and guards were stationed on the island from the 17th century onward to protect its ocean boundaries; yet customs such as taboos strictly forbidding ordinary people from delivering or removing any object to or from the sacred island have continued to be respected.
Taboos prohibiting women from traveling to the island and prohibiting the eating of four-legged animals on the island still survive today.
 The Okitsu-miya Grand Festival, held on May 27th each year, is the only opportunity for ordinary people to visit the island, and that number is limited to some 200 people. Even on this occasion, people are required to strictly follow traditional rules.

Distant Worship and Taboos

Vow of Silence
One must never speak a word about what one has seen or heard on Okinoshima.
 People even refrain from uttering its name, and respectfully refer to it instead in other ways, such as by calling it the "island whose name cannot be spoken."
Removal Prohibited
Removal of any object from Okinoshima is prohibited.
 According to legend, the breaking of this rule during the Edo period (17th century) brought divine retribution.
 Thanks to this tradition, the ritual sites and treasures on the island have been preserved almost intact.
Purication
No one can disembark on Okinoshima without permission from Munakata Taisha.
 Even the priest who offers a religious service there every day must purify his mind and body by immersing himself in the sea before he lands on the island.
Purication
Purication

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