Munakata Taisha is a shrine that consists of three distinct worship sites—Okitsu-miya on Okinoshima, Nakatsu-miya on Oshima, and Hetsu-miya on the main island of Kyushu, all of which are located within a broad area that measures some kilometers in breadth.
These are the living places of worship that are linked to ancient ritual sites.
No shrine buildings originally existed on Okinoshima, but those of Okitsu-miya had been constructed by the middle of the 17th century, amidst the huge boulders where ancient rituals were performed.
The entire island of Okinoshima constitutes the sacred precinct of Okitsu-miya; with no permanent inhabitants until the 17th century, the island itself has long been the object of worship.
Today a Munakata Taisha priest stays on the island in full-time ten-day shifts, offering a religious service each day at the shrine.
By the 16th century, the Nakatsu-miya shrine buildings on the island of Oshima had been constructed at the foot of Mt. Mitake, upon the peak of which ancient rituals were performed.
A path links the shrine buildings with the mountain's summit, together forming the sacred precinct of Nakatsu-miya.
The Hetsu-miya shrine buildings had been constructed by the 12th century at the latest, at the foot of the hill where the Shimotakamiya ritual site is located.
Hetsu-miya is situated on the main island of Kyushu, near the Tsurikawa River, which was an inlet of the sea in ancient times.
Hetsu-miya has become the central venue for Munakata Taisha's rituals, which are deeply connected to the sea, the river, and the Three Goddesses of Munakata.