HOMEStroll through Munakata History

Stroll through Munakata History
Stroll through Munakata History
The Munakata area was the base of a sea route called the Silk Road of the sea. It is currently known as a preservation area of historical sites.
Munakata is a cultural area as well, where you can feel eternal history through shrines and temples. These religious spots are places where people prayed for safety of the voyage.

Munakata Taisha (Munakata Shrine), Hetsu Miya (Hetsu Shrine)
“Munakata Shrine” enshrining the god of roads is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and consists of three shrines: Hetsu Shrine enshrining Ichiki-shima Hime no Kami (Princess God of Ichiki-shima), Nakatsu Miya (Nakatsu Shrine) enshrining Tagitsu Hime no Kami (Princess God of Tagitsu) on Oshima Island, and Okitsu Miya (Okitsu Shrine) enshrining Tagori Hime no Kami (Princess God of Tagori) on Okinoshima Island.
These shrines have watched over the city of Munakata since ancient times.


Genkai area
The Area with a Highly Sophisticated Culture Carefully Handed Down from Ancient Times
The Genkai area with a beautiful shoreline facing the magnificent Genkai Nada (Genkai Sea) was an important place for Munakata Ama Zoku (Munakata ocean tribe) as a base of cultural exchange with the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese continent since ancient times.Furthermore, as there were many fishing ports including Kanezaki, Konominato, and Jinoshima Island, the main industries in this area were fishery and trade with the continents from long ago.Because this area was home to the ocean tribe traveling back and forth in the rough Genkai Sea, shrines like Munakata Shrine were built in order to pray for safety of the voyage.There remain many national treasures, national or prefectural important cultural properties, and intangible cultural properties including the Bon festival dance in Kanezaki and Konominato. This is an area where such valuable history has been carefully transmitted and a highly sophisticated culture has been handed down to the present.
净光寺藤架的图像 Japanese Wisteria at Jyoko-ji (Jyoko Temple) Image of Orihata ShrineOrihata Jinja (Orihata Shrine)
In the precincts of this shrine, there are a primeval forest of Podocarpus macrophyllus designated as a prefectural natural treasure, a stone figure of a woman diver, and Chinsho Park where a large bell-shaped stone is located. This stone is responsible for the name of Kanezaki, which means the cape with a bell.
Image of Kojo Shell Mound Kojo Shell Mound in Kanezaki
This is a historical site of the later Jomon period (approximately 4,000 to 3,000 years ago). Fish bones, animal bones, stone harpoons, fish hooks made of bones, and hair sticks made of deer horns were excavated.
Image of Chinkoku Temple Chinkoku-ji (Chinkoku Temple)
This is the first temple built by Kobo Daishi (Great Master Kobo, whose posthumous name is Kukai) in Japan.The standing statue of Migawari Fudo Myoo (Acalantha who substitutes himself for the suffering) is believed to be created by Great Master Kobo and designated as a national important cultural property.The statue can only be seen every April 28th when Saito Ogomaku (Great Fire Ritual) takes place.
Image of Shinpo-kan Shinpo-kan (Museum of Sacred Treasures)
This is a museum exhibiting national treasures as well as important cultural properties from Munakata Shrine and Okinoshima Island.
National Treasures
【National treasure:Kin-no yubiwa (Golden ring)】
【National treasure:Kin-no yubiwa (Golden ring)】
【National treasure:Kondo-sei shinyo-gata gyoyo (Gilt bronze-made heart-shaped ornaments)】
【National treasure:Kondo-sei shinyo-gata gyoyo (Gilt bronze-made heart-shaped ornaments)】
【National treasure:Sankakubuchi shinjukyo (Triangular-rimmed mirrors)】
【National treasure:Sankakubuchi shinjukyo (Triangular-rimmed mirrors)】
【National treasure:Kin-sei takabata (Golden weaving machine)】
【National treasure:Kin-sei takabata (Golden weaving machine)】


Munakata’s Outstanding Team of Historical Sightseeing Volunteer Guides
People who participated in courses for learning local history and cultural properties in Munakata work as volunteer guides at cultural exchange facilities.



Oshima Island and Okinoshima Island area
The Islands of Gentle Fishermen Who Dreamed of a Faraway Continent
As Oshima Island and Okinoshima Island were staging posts of the trading route called “Kaihoku Douchu (Northern Sea Route)” between the continent and Kyushu in ancient times, there remain many valuable historical heritage sites.Especially, Okinoshima Island was recognized as a landmark for ships heading to the Korean Peninsula and thus was worshiped as the island where God lives.It seems that national ritual ceremonies took place here between the late 4th century and the beginning of the 10th century. This is borne out by the fact that about 120,000 items of national treasures and important cultural properties were excavated. Those items include a golden ring from Silla (One of the three ancient Korean kingdoms) and pieces of crystal glasses from ancient Persia. This is why Okinoshima Island is called “Shosoin (treasure repository) at sea.There is another island called Chikuzen-oshima Island, the circumference of which is 13.5 km. This is the largest island in Fukuoka Prefecture.One of the three princess gods in Munakata, Princess God of Tagitsu, has been enshrined in this God's Island since ancient times. This is why Nakatsu Shrine, which is a part of Munakata Shrine, is located near the port of this island.The Ama-no Gawa (Milky Way) river alongside Nakatsu Shrine is believed as the birthplace of the “Milky Way legend” and thus Tanabata Matsuri (star festival) takes place here every August 7th. There are also Sazanami Kan (Sazanami bathhouse) with a natural hot spring, Oshima Todai (Oshima lighthouse), a beach, a windmill-shaped observation tower, and a municipal ranch here. Many people visit this island thanks to its closeness from Konominato; it takes only 25 minutes by a ferry.
Image of Miare FestivalMiare-sai (Miare Festival)
Every October 1st, Gozabune (boat for exalted people) with Mikoshi (portable shrine) of the princess god leaves Oshima port surrounded by about 400 fishing boats.The proud and spectacular parade travels a sea route of about 15 km to Jinoshima Island, Kanezaki, and Konominato.
Image of Okinoshima IslandOkinoshima Island
This island is called “Shosoin (treasure repository) at sea” because about 120,000 items of national treasures and important cultural properties were excavated here.There is a movement to designate this island and ancient tombs in the Munakata area as a World Heritage Site.
Image of Munakata Shrine: Okitsu Shrine Munakata Shrine: Okitsu Shrine
Princess God of Tagori has been enshrined in this God’s island since ancient times, where Okitsu Shrine is located. Important ritual ceremonies take place here to pray for safety of the sea route from a long time ago.
Image of Munakata Shrine: Nakatsu Shrine Munakata Shrine: Nakatsu Shrine
In Oshima, there is Nakatsu Shrine, which is a part of Munakata Shrine and where one of the three princess gods in Munakata, Princess God of Tagitsu, is enshrined. In the back of the shrine, many plants including trees of Prunus zippeliana grow gregariously.
Image of Ansho Temple and Grave of Abeno MunetoAnsho-in (Ansho Temple) and Grave of Abeno Muneto
Abeno Muneto was a member of the most influential ruling family in Oshu (Tohoku region). However, he was defeated by troops led by Minamotono Yoriyoshi in “Zenkunen no Eki (Earlier Nine Years’ War)” which took place about 940 years ago. After then, he was sent to this place and built this temple by himself.
His grave is located on the north side of the temple.
Image of Yume-no-Sayojima Island Yume-no-Sayojima Island
This is an island right in front of Kansu Swimming Beach. When the tide is out, it connects to Oshima Island, and thus you can walk across the beach to this island.
Image of Worship area of Okitsu Shrine Yohai-jo (Worship Area) of Okitsu Shrine
The worship area was built for women as, even now, no women are allowed in Okinoshima Island and for people who pray for safety of the voyage for family members going fishing.This is the place where you can feel nostalgia for ancient times.



Munakata area
The City Prospered as a Hub for Traveling People Since Ancient Times,
Still Retaining Much of Its Character
The Munakata area which prospered as an agricultural area is also a hub of traffic because of the railroad and the national road running east and west in the center of this area. Munakata has become an ideal commuter town as people can commute to Fukuoka City and Kitakyushu City, both of which are government ordinance cities. Besides, there are large-scale commercial facilities, three universities including Fukuoka University of Education, and the city’s integrated cultural facility called “Munakata Yurix.” Thanks to its geographical advantage, Munakata has developed as a residential, educational, and cultural city. It is said that the habitation of the Munakata area began approximately 30,000 years ago during the Upper Paleolithic period. In the Yayoi period, the land along the Tsuri River became a fertile plain, attracting many people. As one of the largest “Barei (horse bell)” in Japan was excavated from Byodo-ji Seto Iseki (Byodo Temple Seto Site), it is believed that a highly authoritative leader had resided here. In the Edo period, this area prospered as a post station called “Akama Shuku (Akama post station)” on Karatsu Gaido (Karatsu road), which is a road used for Sankin Kotai (alternate attendance) of the Fukuoka-han (Fukuoka clan) or the Karatsu-han (Karatsu clan). It also prospered as a center of trading commodities in Munakata area until the railway opened in the Meiji period. There are reminders of ancient times including Buke Yashiki (samurai residences), sites of large merchant houses such as Tsukuri Zaka-ya (sake breweries), and Tsuji Ido (water wells).
Image of Harumachi post station Harumachi Shuku (Harumachi Post Station)
Harumachi was a post station on Karatsu Gaido (Karatsu road) at the midpoint between Akama and Aze Town (Fukutsu city).Recent development of this area includes unique shops such as a farmer’s market called “Kanokono Sato” and a remodeled antique dealer’s shop based on an old household.
Image of Akama post station Akama Shuku (Akama Post Station)
During the Edo period, Akama’s many hotels and merchant houses made it a center of traffic, culture, and economics. There are reminders of the Edo period including Shirakabe (white walls), latticed houses, and Tsuji Ido (water wells).
Image of Hassho Shrine Hassho-gu (Hassho Shrine)
Juichimen Kannon Zou (Eleven-Headed Kannon Statue) located in the precincts is a prefecturally-designated cultural property. The Daimyo Gyoretsu (Daimyo procession) of shrine parishioners that takes place at Reitai-sai (Reitai festival) in October is worth seeing.
Image of Sosho Temple Sosho-ji (Sosho Temple)
The grave of Kobayakawa Takakage, feudal lord of Chikuzen Province, is located at this temple. Seasonal beauty such as blooming flowers or autumn leaves may be enjoyed throughout the year.Bato Kannon Zou (Horse-headed Kannon Statue) located in the precincts will be shown twice during 33-year period. The most recent exposition took place in 2006, and the next exposition will take place 16 or 17 years from now.
Image of Byodo Temple Seto Site Byodo-ji Seto Iseki (Byodo Temple Seto Site)
This ancient tomb built in the Kofun period is a city-designated cultural property. A gilt bronze-made scabbard fitting of a bearing sword and the largest “Barei (horse bell)” in Japan were excavated. They represent a great authority of the deceased person.
Image of Yamada Jizo Zoufuku Temple Yamada Jizo-son Zoufuku-in (Yamada Jizo Zoufuku Temple)
Late in the Muromachi period during the time of clan conflict involving the high chief priest of Munakata Shrine, six people (five women and one child) were killed and have been enshrined here as six Jizo (Guardian deity of children) statues. This temple is believed to be good for prayers of safe delivery during childbirth and help in childrearing.
Additionally, this temple is known as a place where Ashikaga Takauji, who established the Muromachi Shogunate, visited when asking for reinforcements.