|Location||2331, Tashima, Munakata|
1811, Ōshima, Munakata
|Glossary of Shinto|
Munakata Taisha (宗像大社) is a collection of three Shinto shrines located in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. It is the head of the approximately 6,000 Munakata shrines all over the country. Although the name Munakata Taisha refers to all three shrines—Hetsu-gū, Nakatsu-gū and Okitsu-gū—it is commonly used to refer to Hetsu-gū alone. As documented in Japan's second oldest book, Nihon Shoki, the shrines are devoted to the three Munakata goddesses (宗像三女神, Munakata-sanjojin).
These kami are believed to be daughters of the goddess Amaterasu, the ancestress of the imperial family or to be the daughters of Susanoo, who has also been worshipped there for many years as the god of mariners, and he has come to be worshipped as the god of traffic safety on land as well.
Munakata Taisha is also home to many Japanese treasures. Hetsu-gū's honden (main shrine) and haiden (main prayer hall) are both designated Important Cultural Properties and the precincts are a Historic Site. The Shinpō-kan (神寶館), the shrine's treasure hall located on the southwest corner of Hetsu-gū's grounds, houses many important relics including six National Treasures of Japan. Over 120,000 artifacts housed in the Shinpō-kan were unearthed on Okinoshima.
It was formerly an imperial shrine of the first rank (官幣大社, kanpei taisha) in the Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines.
The gods were brought to the shrine from Tashima Shrine located on Kabe Island, Saga Prefecture
All three shrines are located in Fukuoka Prefecture, yet they are all on separate islands. The main shrine, Hetsu-gū, is located on the mainland of Kyūshū. Nakatsu-gū is established at the foot of Mt. Mitake on the island of Ōshima off the west coast of Kyūshū. The final shrine, Okitsu-gū, is on the island of Okinoshima located in the middle of the Genkai Sea. The shrine occupies the entire island, therefore women are not allowed to set foot on the island and men must perform a purification ceremony before landing.
In 2009 the three shrines were submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the serial nomination Okinoshima Island and Related Sites in Munakata Region.
In July, 2017 Japan's Okinoshima Island gained UNESCO World Heritage Status.
|Shrine Name||Enshrined Deity||Island Location||Coordinates|
|Hetsu-gū (辺津宮)||Ichikishimahime (市杵島姫神)||Kyūshū|
|Nakatsu-gū (中津宮)||Tagitsuhime (湍津姫神)||Ōshima|
|Okitsu-gū (沖津宮)||Takiribime (田心姫神)||Okinoshima|
Media related to Munakata-taisha at Wikimedia Commons