World Cultural and Natural Heritage in Japan

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1.Japan's Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List


2.Japan's Commitment to the Protection of the World Heritage


3.The Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan

4.Visit Japan!



1. Japan's Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List


Japan has been a State Party to the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention) since 1992. The main objectives of this Convention are to identify exceptional sites in the world and to ensure their protection through international cooperation.


Fourteen Japanese sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List, eleven as cultural properties and three as natural properties.


List by order of inscription:

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Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji AreaBuddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area (1993), Cultural Site


The oldest and some of the largest wooden structures in the world.





Shirakami-SanchiShirakami-Sanchi (1993), Natural Site of exceptional natural beauty where threatened species of plants and animals still survive.




YakushimaYakushima (1993), Natural Site


A warm temperate evergreen forest with rich flora of which very old specimens of the “sugi” or Japanese cedar.






Himeji CastleHimeji-jo (1993), or Himeji Castle, Cultural Site


A masterpiece of construction in wood, both for its design and its decoration.





kyotoHistoric Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) (1994), Cultural Site


Many famous temples of Japan are in Kyoto, such as the Kiyomizu-dera, built on a mountainside, the Kinkaku-ji, also knows as "the Golden Pavilion", the Ginkaku-ji, also called "the Silver Pavilion", and the Ryōan-ji , famous for its rock garden, all World Heritage Sites.


ShirakawaHistoric Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama (1995), Cultural Site


Located in Gifu and Tovama Prefectures, these villages have gassho-style houses (traditional house with a steeply sloped thatched roof ), built in a unique style not be found in any other region of Japan.




ItsukushimaItsukushima Shinto Shrine (1996), Miyajima Island, Cultural Site


Shinto Shrine of exceptionnal beauty, perfectly integrated into the natural landscape.





Genbaku domeHiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) (1996), Cultural Site


In 1945, the first nuclear bomb exploded above the dome, now a memorial as well as a symbol of Peace.




Todaiji Temple, NaraHistoric Monuments of Ancient Nara (1998), Cultural Site


Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. These monuments illustrate a critical period in the cultural and political development of Japan.






NikkoShrines and Temples of Nikko (1999), Cultural Site


Still an active religious place in Tochigi Prefecture, these temples and shrines also represent outstanding artistic value.




Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of theThe Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu (2000) Cultural Site


These properties represent the typical elements of religious beliefs and activities unique to Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa Prefecture).




Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain RangeSacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, and the
Cultural Landscapes that surround them
(2004), Cultural Site


The monuments and sites that form the cultural landscape are a unique fusion between Shinto and Buddhism.





ShiretokoShiretoko (2005), Natural Site


An outstanding example of the
interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems.





Iwami GinzanIwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape (2007), Cultural Site



Archaeological remains of large-scale silver mines, smelting and refining sites and mining settlements.




Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land (2011) Cultural Site


vestiges of government offices dating from the 11th and 12th centuries when Hiraizumi was the administrative centre of the northern realm of Japan and rivalled Kyoto


Ogasawara Islands (2011) Natural Site


The islands offer a variety of landscapes and are home to a wealth of fauna, including the Bonin Flying Fox, a critically endangered bat, and 195 endangered bird species



See also : The World Heritage List and the World Heritage Convention




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2. Japan's Commitment to the Protection of the World Heritage


The Japanese Government created in 1989 the Fund-in-Trust for the Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage. This Fund finances projects aimed at preserving and restoring monuments, sites, archaeological remains, etc., with a high historical or artistic value. Half of the beneficiary sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List. ( More )



3. The Protection of Cultural Properties in Japan


Japan is also actively involved in the protection of heritage at the national level, and has adopted efficient administrative tools to ensure the legal protection of all forms of cultural heritage and to support cultural activities.

The organization in charge of the implementation of the measures adopted for the protection of the cultural heritage is the Agency for Cultural Affairs .



4. Visit Japan!


You will find tourist information (in particular on the sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List) on the Homepage of the Japanese National Tourist Organisation as well as on the Website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, section Visiting Japan Links .



Links New window :


More about World Heritage (UNESCO Website)


Japan Endless Discovery (JNTO Website)


World Heritage in Japan



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