Healing Okinoshima Island
The decline of the endangered Japanese murrelet is a direct consequence of an invasion of predatory rats. The loss of murrelets marks the beginning of the islands inevitable trophic collapse as the rats work their way through the islands biodiversity.
The 80-hectare island of Okinoshima lies 50 nautical miles northwest from Fukuoka, in southern Japan, on an ancient trading route with Korea. It is deeply revered by the Japanese, for it’s there the ancient Shinto gods gave three empresses to watch over and safeguard the nation. Their presence is immortalized in an enclave of sacred boulders surrounded by verdant Japanese cedar trees, reflecting a Shinto tenet that all life is sacred, respected and revered.
Areas of particular importance are shrouded by a Shimenawa, a hemp or natural fiber rope from which pure white folds of paper (shides) are hung, symbolizing purity. The entire island is held sacred by the Japanese nation, and consequently, everything that enters the island must be pure.
As the Shinto priest explains the cleansing ritual, a distinct hint of mirth plays in his eyes. Two small bows and two claps followed by a frigid submersion leaves us cleansed. Given my personal history, I repeat the process for good measure. Appropriately purified, we are free to explore.
Posted on: May 11, 2015
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Coastal Conservation is comprised of staff and technical advisors with significant expertise in biological systems and invasive species eradications around the world.Read More