After almost 700 years of forbidding women from climbing the sacred mountain Omine in western Japan, the Japanese temple Ominesanji is considering permitting women climbers.
The temple sits on top of the 5,640-foot Omine Mountain, one of only two Japanese shrines that forbid women. Ominesanji is a temple for male followers of the Shugendo sect, a mix of Shintoism, Buddhism and Taoism. Women can neither enter the temple nor climb more than halfway up the mountain, where their trails stop. All other trails read “No Women Allowed.”
Until the 19th century, Japan banned women from sacred mountains, saying females were unclean and an insult to mountain goddesses. The ban on Omine is not legal, but is observed by tradition. In response to many requests and the increasing awareness of women’s rights in Japan, Ominesanji is considering celebrating its 700th birthday in 2000 by lifting the ban.