Japan Atlas: Nature 
Shirakami Mountains

Location: Aomori Prefecture (Ajisawa Town, Fukaura Town, Iwasaki Village, Nishimeya Village) and Akita Prefecture (Fujisato Town) 

 Area (whole):     1,300 sq km (502 sq mi) 

 World Heritage registered area:      170 sq km (66 sq mi) 

 Registered as World Heritage on: December 1993 

 Other World Natural Heritage in Japan: Yakushima Island, Kagoshima Pref. 



Massive Primeval Beech Forest Kept Untouched  

The Shirakami Mountains are a mountainous area of 1,300 square kilometers (502 square miles) on the border between Aomori and Akita Prefectures in northeast Japan. The 170-square kilometer (66-square mile) beech forest in the heart of the area was registered by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage in December 1993. The area is unique in Japan with virgin natural forests of Siebold's beech (Fagus crenata) covering a wide area with almost no man- made structures.  

The area is characterized by its primitiveness. As Siebold's beech has been used as timber or firewood, many of its stands elsewhere are currently either man-made or secondary forests, and except for preserved areas there are almost no virgin forests of Siebold's beech today. However, as the Shirakami Mountains are steep and located far from the cities, almost no logging had taken here. Especially in the registered area, an untouched virgin forest is well preserved, and because it is completely natural, a rich variety of flora and fauna inhabit here. There live some Japanese endemic mammals, such as the Nihon Kamoshika (Japanese Serow) and the Nihon Zaru (Japanese Monkey), and several bird species which are in danger of extinction, among which are the Inu Washi (Golden Eagle), the Kuma Gera (Black Woodpeckers), and the Kuma Taka (Hodgson's Hawk Eagle). The Shirakami Mountains are also home to unique plant communities coexisting with the beech forest, and contain many endemic plant species.  

Photo: Virgin beech forests in Shirakami Mountains (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)  

Unauthorized reproduction of the photos in this page is prohibited. 

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