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Okinoshima, Munakata, Fukuoka, Japan
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Japan's Sacred, Men-Only Island is Up For UNESCO World Heritage Status

Original image
Okinoshima, Munakata, Fukuoka, Japan
National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

Visit Okinoshima—a speck of land off the coast of Kyushu, Japan's third largest island—and you’ll see no female faces. Only men are allowed to visit the island, which is home to a sacred religious shrine honoring a goddess of the sea. As BBC News reports, this men-only island is now up for UNESCO World Heritage status, along with four other culturally significant sites in Japan.

Long ago, between the 4th and 9th centuries, sailors conducted rites at the shrine to ensure that their ships remained safe at sea. The island was also the site of numerous cultural exchanges between the Japanese and people of the Korean Peninsula. Artifacts unearthed on the island have included glass cup fragments believed to be from Persia, gold rings from the Korean Peninsula, and other treasures, according to The Telegraph.

Nobody quite knows why women aren’t allowed on Okinoshima, but we do know that the rule dates back to ancient times. Multiple theories exist, including that it was too dangerous for childbearing women to travel from the mainland, or that female pilgrims were considered "impure" because they menstruated.

Male visitors have their own set of guidelines to follow: Once they've arrived on Okinoshima, they're required to take off their clothing and perform a cleansing ritual. They're also not allowed to take any items home—big or small—from the island, or talk about their trip once they've returned home.

This codified set of instructions isn’t exactly conducive to tourism, which will surely grow if Okinoshima ends up being registered on the World Heritage list. Religious officials say they’ll deal with any issues as they arise, but that they’re not making any exceptions for women visitors. (That said, we know of a UNESCO-recognized matriarchal island off the coast of Estonia that will welcome them with open arms.)

[h/t BBC News]

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Okinoshima, Munakata, Fukuoka, Japan
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Nalcrest, Florida: Where Postal Workers Go to Retire
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You could say that the Nalcrest community in central Florida delivers affordable retirement housing for seniors. And with amenities like a pool and tennis courts, you might even say it has the whole package [PDF]. Or you could just go with the pun that the community itself has landed on: “Nalcrest: A First Class Community.”

Nalcrest, you see, is a retirement community exclusive to members of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC); the village has 500 ground-level apartments available for postal workers to enjoy after they’ve delivered their final Oriental Trading catalog. Garden-style units start at just $374 a month, including water, sewage, trash removal, basic cable, maintenance, and use of all of the recreational facilities.

The idea for an affordable, profession-specific retirement community came to NALC president William Doherty in the 1950s, when he toured Europe and saw similar setups organized by labor unions, religious groups, and fraternal organizations [PDF]. He proposed the idea for U.S. mail carriers as early as 1954, then pounced when Congress passed a law in 1959 that provided loans to build housing for seniors. Doherty was there to break ground on July 1, 1962; Nalcrest officially opened for business less than two years later on January 20, 1964. The dedication ceremony included a band of mail carrier musicians and a separate group called “The Singing Mailmen,” a group made up of—you guessed it—singing mailmen, as well as a female water skiing team that proudly flew pennants spelling out “Nalcrest.” After a stint as the ambassador to Jamaica, Doherty himself retired to Nalcrest, living there until his death in 1987.

Though residents may not be traipsing a daily mail route anymore, they still have plenty of options to stay active. Nalcrest has shuffleboard, horseshoes, bocce, miniature golf, tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool, walking trails, and a softball diamond (home to the Nalcrest Eagles). It also boasts a travel club, a women’s association, and free art classes, among other activities. There’s one thing, however, it doesn’t have—dogs. With the exception of therapy dogs, Nalcrest has a no-canine rule in deference to retirees who were bitten in the line of duty and have an aversion to the animals.

If a dog-free community seems like paradise for postal workers, the other thing Nalcrest lacks cements its status as letter carrier nirvana: There are no mailboxes, because there is no home mail delivery. Each resident has to visit the Nalcrest post office to pick up any correspondence.

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New Website Helps You Track Down the U.S. Streets That Share Your Name
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Unless you're a president or some other historical figure, the streets that share your name likely aren't an homage to you. But there's no harm in pretending. A new website makes it easy to find your namesake road signs for just that purpose.

As Town & Country notes (via Cosmopolitan), anyone can type their first or last name into Crossing.us. Using data from Google Maps, it brings up a list of intersections featuring at least one mention of that name. Type in the name Eustace, and you'll get a list of nearly 90 intersections; search for Smith, and you'll get more than 24,000.

The search engine also works with two names at once. Users can enter their first and last name to see where in the country both parts come together. Intersections with the name Maria Garcia, for instance, pop up twice in the U.S., both times in Texas.

And, of course, the site can be used to find an intersection of your name and that of someone you know. That's what originally inspired Entrepreneur magazine editor-in-chief Jason Feifer to create the tool. After seeing a street that shared a name with his wife, Jennifer, he thought how neat it would be to find out it led to a street named Jason. He didn't see a way to search for such an intersection online, so he and his team of friends built a way to do so from scratch.

Crossing.us can help you pick out a creative proposal spot, or a stop on a road trip with your best friend. Or if you don't feel like traveling, you can use it to build an epic map of all the roads that share your name without leaving home.

[h/t Town & Country]

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