When Okinoshima was placed on Japan's tentative list for World Heritage designation in 2009, an unprecedented amount of new research into the archaeological and historical materials associated with this exceptional complex of sites was generated. This book provides an overview and sample of this research, and explores the significance and impact that such a targeted program of research can have on understanding a potential World Heritage Site both archaeologically as well as in management terms.
The tiny island of Okinoshima, which lies in the Genkai Sea off the coast of northern Kyushu in western Japan, is an extraordinary place that deserves wider recognition in both global archaeology and international heritage management. It is believed to have controlled the important shipping lanes between the Japanese archipelago and the Korean peninsula from the 4th to 10th centuries AD.
The island is also notable for being surrounded by secrecy and taboo for it was the sacred home and embodiment of the three jealous Munakata deities (three sisters mentioned in ancient texts, latterly enshrined in the Munakata Grand Shrine and on Okinoshima). Most of the more than 80,000 objects known from archaeological investigations originally had been deposited as offerings to the Munakata deities between the 4th and 10thcenturies AD. All of these objects are now designated as National Treasures by the Japanese government.