TOKYO: The Japanese island of Okinoshima and associated sites in the Munakata Region in the Fukuoka prefecture have been given World Heritage status at the 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee held in Poland on Sunday (Jul 9).

The island sits between Japan’s southwestern main island of Kyushu and the Korean Peninsula.

Okinoshima is home to the 17th century Okitsu-Miya Shrine which was built to pray for the safety of sailors.

The island’s ancient rules regarding entry have been preserved with tight restrictions on the number of visitors, the Japan Times said. Just 200 tourists are allowed annually.

There is also a total ban on women visitors, according to the Bangkok Post.

A Shinto priest holding a ritural ceremony at Okitsugu shrine of the Munakata Taisha in Okinoshima island, some 60 kilometres from Munakata city, Fukuoka prefecture. (Photo: AFP)

Other restrictions require men to take off their clothes and undergo a cleansing ritual, before stepping foot on the island. Tourists are also not allowed to take away any souvenirs, or disclose details of their visit, the BBC reported.

Around 80,000 items unearthed on the island have been designated as national treasures, reports said.

Okitsugu shrine of the Munakata Taisha at Okinoshima island, some 60 kilometres from Munakata city, Fukuoka prefecture. (Photo: AFP)

UNESCO’s heritage committee considered 33 sites for the prestigious status at its annual gathering in Poland this weekend.

Among those awarded World Heritage status was Cambodia’s Sambor Prei Kuk, or “temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, located 206km north of the capital Phnom Penh.

Britain’s Lake District in northwest England was also named as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.



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