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Photo By: IMAKI Hidekazu
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Nakatsumiya Shrine

An ancient structure with beautiful ocean views.

You’ll have to be dedicated to visit this shrine, but it’s worth it. Nakatsumiya Shrine is located on Oshima, the largest island in Fukuoka Prefecture, 11 kilometers off Kyushu’s coast. The sunny island is home to just 700 people and makes for a great day-trip.

Amanogawa and the Tanabata legend

Photo by: IMAKI Hidekazu Nakatsumiya Shrine

Although it’s sister shrine, Okitsumiya, is completely closed off to visitors, Nakatsumiya boasts beautiful ocean views while still being accessible to the public. Together with Hetsumiya and Okitsumiya, this shrine makes up the Munakata Taisha UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The shrine is a mid-sized wooden structure surrounded by lush forest, with two iconic red Shinto lamps. Many visitors to the shrine pay their respects at the nearby Amanogawa, a stream representing the Milky Way in the Japanese Tanabata legend. Two lovers, Hikoboshi (the star Altair) and Orihime (the star Vega), were separated on opposite sides of the Milky Way. Only once a year on July 7th, when the stars are closest, the lovers meet, which is the date of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.

Forbidden Okinoshima

Okitsumiya Yohaisho Oshima Fukuoka@0.5x

Photo by: IMAKI Hidekazu Okitsumiya Yohaisho commands a view of forbidden Okinoshima.

In addition to Nakatsumiya, several more remote shrines are dotted around Oshima.

About thirty minutes on foot from Nakatsumiya is a shrine that faces Okinoshima. It is a sacred and forbidden island home to the third Munakata Taisha shrine, Okitsumiya. Since the island is off-limits to visitors, worshippers can visit a replica shrine on Oshima to make offerings or pray to the Okitsumiya Shrine goddess.

Things To Know

Nakatsumiya Shrine is only a five-minute walk up the hill from the ferry port on the island. If you want to explore more of Oshima, you can get around via car (you can drive it on to the ferry), take a sightseeing bus, or rent a bicycle.

The Oshima Exchange Center, where you can learn about Oshima’s history and culture, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Tuesdays.

How To Get There


1811-1 Ōshima, Munakata, Fukuoka 811-3701, Japan

By train

From Fukuoka, take the JR Kagoshima train line to Togo Station.

By bus

Take the bus to Jun Minami Nashoba Station, where you can jump on the ferry.


By boat

Take a local ferry from Kono Ferry Portto Oshima Port. A footpath from the ferry port will take you through two stone torii gates, signifying that you are entering a sacred space. Ascending the path’s steep staircase will bring you to the shrine.

Visitors can board a large ferry that takes 25 minutes to Oshima or a municipal passenger ferry that takes 15 minutes. You can bring your car on the ferry for ¥5,000 one way.

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