NAGASAKI – A tiny shrine on a tiny island that is drawing grand comparisons to France’s fortified Mont Saint-Michel monastery is drawing more visitors, raising expectations that tourism will improve in that part of Nagasaki Prefecture.
Kojima shrine is a Shinto holy site on Maekojima, an uninhabited islet about 60 meters wide that’s situated in a sizable bay off the southeast edge of much larger Iki Island. The two are connected by a tidal causeway about 200 meters long.
“The path to the shrine appears at low tide,” said Susumi Goto, 68, the shrine’s chief priest. He added that pilgrims can “feel the Holy Spirit in (the site’s) mysterious nature.”
Visitors approach the island on foot and then climb a path that leads through trees to the rear of the island, where the unmanned shrine stands.
Shinto believers consider the island to be a sacred spot, and visitors are asked to refrain from taking any leaves, twigs or pebbles as souvenirs.
Iki itself is home to multiple shrines built in ancient times, when travelers would visit from the mainland. The island and its holy sites have since become a draw for tourists today.
Mont Saint-Michel, represented by a towering castle off the coast of Normandy in northern France viewable from miles away, is a major tourist attraction. It used to be connected with the mainland 600 meters away by a tidal causeway that disappeared at high tide, but that was reportedly over a century ago. The 100-hectare monastery is now accessible by bridge and the permanently dry causeway is scheduled for removal under a project that will turn it into an island once again.
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