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This Page: Home Lifestyle and Traditions Oki’s History: Protected and Passed Down Islands of Exile

Islands of Exile

Locations of remote exile introduced in 724

Oki was designated as a location of remote island exile during the reign of Emperor Shomu in 724. Noble exiles, among them two emperors, court nobles and government officials were sent there to carry out their sentences. By the mid-Edo Period (1603 – 1868), regular criminals were also exiled to Oki.

Oki was selected for this role partly due to its remoteness, but also because the islands were wealthy enough that exiled nobles could live there without suffering hardship. Beliefs that the spirits of powerful individuals could come back to seek revenge for having been treated badly meant that exiles were to have satisfactory living conditions. This is likely the reason that Nakanoshima Island, which has rich farmland and a long history, was selected as the location of exile for Emperor Gotoba in 1221.

Other famous individuals exiled to the Oki Islands include Emperor Godaigo (1332) and the poet Ono-no-Takamura (838).

Portrait of Emperor Gotoba
Portrait of Emperor Godaigo

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