About the World Heritage

The World Heritage Convention (the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage), adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972, aims to protect the world's universally important cultural, natural, and composite heritage from destruction or loss. 175 countries are parties to the convention as of September 28, 2002.

The World Heritage Committee, made up of 21 state parties, chiefly performs the following duties in order to accomplish the World Heritage Convention's objectives.

  • Determining World Heritage properties among recommendations from individual countries.
  • Examining the state of conservation of World Heritage properties selected in the past.
  • Determining international assistance for the protection of the World Heritage.

The 26th Session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Budapest, Hungary in 2002 to discuss these matters.

World Heritage Properties in Japan

Eleven properties in Japan are currently included on the World Heritage List.

  • World Heritage properties in Japan
      1. Natural Heritage
        Two sites in Japan are on the list of natural heritage properties:

        1. Shirakami-Sanchi (Shirakami Mountains)
          Possesses the world's largest primeval beech-tree forest, virtually unaffected by human contact

        2. Yakushima
          Possesses Japanese cedar trees over a thousand years old

      2. Cultural Heritage
        Nine other sites and structures in Japan are on the list of cultural heritage properties:

        1. Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area
          The oldest wooden structures in the world

        2. Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto
          The shrines and temples that have been places of worship in the ancient capital of Kyoto, which has a history of over 1,200 years

        3. Himeji-jo (Himeji Castle)
          A beautiful castle admired as the "white egret castle"

        4. The Historic Villages, Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
          The Gassho-style Farmhouses constructed in conformity with the natural conditions of the region - which is subject to deep accumulations of heavy snow

        5. Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
          A shrine that extends out over the ocean and is beautifully integrated with the form of the mountains behind it

        6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome or Atomic Bomb Dome)
          Conveys the horror of nuclear war to people today

        7. Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
          The magnificent shrines and temples, Mount Kasuga's primeval forests and the historic ruins of the Heijyo-kyo ancient capital in Nara, which was the capital of Japan before Kyoto and has a 1,300-year history

        8. Shrines and Temples of Nikko
          The Shrines and Temples in Nikko, a sacred site for those who religiously worshiped mountains, with a history of approximately 1,200 years

        9. Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu
          The group of historic sites that show the characteristics of the unique Ryukyu culture that developed from the latter 14th century, when the Ryukyus began moving toward a unified state, to the late 18th century after the establishment of the Kingdom of Ryukyu