A journey to the roots of Japan through the mysteries, nature, and cuisine of Munakata
This tour takes you on a journey through the solemn and mysterious shrines and other sacred sites of Okinoshima and Munakata, where the seventh-century Japanese ambassadors to Tang China prayed for safe travel across the sea. Ancient treasures, festivals with centuries of history, a majestic marine landscape, and local delicacies from the freshest seafood to brand-name beef await participants.
Itinerary: 3 Days, 2 Nights
Nestled within a forest, the Mori no Nanakusa hotel consists of seven completely different cottages – from a tent-style “glamping cottage” to a traditional Japanese house featuring tatami mats and a private open-air bath. The cottages are scattered throughout the woods, giving them a secluded and luxurious feel. The hotel’s three restaurants specialise in vegetables, meat, and seafood respectively.
*Special Program Guided by a Shinto Priest
The Shinpokan Museum at Munakata Taisha Shrine houses and displays some 80,000 items, among them National Treasures, offered to the gods on the sacred island of Okinoshima from the latter half of the fourth century to the late ninth century, when state-backed ceremonies took place on the island. The museum’s treasures are not only historically significant; they also represent the height of beauty and craftsmanship of their time.
(Munakata World Heritage Guidance Center)
This partially bilingual museum, which also functions as a visitor center for the “Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region” World Heritage site, displays ancient artifacts discovered in the city of Munakata and provides an overview of the area’s history and culture. Don’t miss the virtual-reality tour of Okinoshima offered at the 3D theater.
A refined French restaurant specialising in seafood from the Genkai Sea and lean, umami-rich Munakata beef, Ishida is best experienced through one of the seasonal multi-course meals, all of which feature organic vegetables grown by the chef himself.
*Japanese-style is planned
Shrine Yohaijo to Okinoshima
The sacred island of Okinoshima is off limits to visitors, so honoring its deities is done at this off-site chapel on Oshima instead. It offers views across the sea to the ‘island of the gods’, which is located some 48 kilometres off shore.
Taisha Nakatsugu Shrine *1
Held on the first and 15th days of every month, this festival centers on praying for the well-being of the nation and the imperial family, as well as for the prosperity of the Munakata area and Japan as a whole. Taking place at Nakatsugu Shrine, it is usually open only to devotees of Munakata Taisha, including fishermen who offer their catch to the deities. Prayers to the three Munakata goddesses are said facing the directions of Hetsugu Shrine on the mainland and Okitsugu Shrine on the sacred island of Okinoshima.
*Lecture Program with Local Fishermen and Chefs.
Grab a counter seat at this gem of a sushi joint to enjoy fresh seafood straight from the nearby Kanezaki port, all while looking out over the Genkai Sea behind the windows. The sake selection is worth a look, too.
In the fourth century, Japanese ambassadors to Tang China prayed for safe travels at Munakata before setting out onto the waves, which they navigated with the moon as their guide. This tour lets participants experience ancient sea travel by boarding boats driven by local fishermen, who will take them to see the moonglade, or the road-like reflection of the moon on water at night. (The moon-viewing will be replaced by an underwater light show on days when the moon is not visible.)
*Japanese-style is planned
*1 If the boat cannot depart due to bad weather, the plan is to attend a monthly festival at Munakata Taisha Hetsugu Shrine.
*2 If there is bad weather on the day of the tour, the boat may not depart. Please note that in this case, a separate programme will be provided including watching films and other ways of experiencing the World Heritage Site.