World Heritage

World heritage

A “World Heritage” is a property that is registered on the “World Heritage List” which is created by the World Heritage Convention. There are three types of properties: structures and historic ruins are “Cultural Heritage Sites,” natural areas are “Natural Heritage Sites,” and properties that combine both elements of culture and nature are “Mixed Heritage Sites.”
The“World Heritage Convention” is officially known as “The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.” In order to leave a legacy for the entire human race, the purpose of the convention is to establish a system of international cooperation and support in order to protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage from damage or destruction. It was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972 and went into effect in 1975. As of January 2017, 193 countries (State Parties) have joined the Convention. Japan joined the Convention in 1992.

The Registration Process


Each country (State Party) submits a “tentative list” of candidates that they would like to register as World Heritage to the World Heritage Committee.


A Nomination File is submitted to the World Heritage Committee for candidates selected from the “tentative list” regarding their relevant heritage for the registration screening.


The International Advisory Bodies (The International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International Union for Conservation of Nature(IUCN)) conduct preliminary evaluations including field surveys of the sites.


The World Heritage Committee evaluates the sites and decides which ones will be registered.

Japan’s Registered World Heritage and Sites on the Tentative List

  Cultural Heritage
(Monuments, buildings, historic ruins, etc.)
(Led by the Agency for Cultural Affairs)
Natural Heritage
(Outstanding natural beauty, the habitats of endangered species, etc.)
(Led by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries)
Registered World Heritage Sites(22 Items)
  • Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area (H5)
  • Himeji-jo (H5)
  • Historic Monuments Of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto,Uji and Out Cities) (H6)
  • Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama (H7)
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) (H8)
  • Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (H8)
  • Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (H10)
  • Shrines and Temples of Nikko (H11)
  • Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu (H12)
  • Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range (H16)
  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape (H19)
  • Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land (H23)
  • Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration (H25)
  • Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites (H26)
  • Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution:Iron and Steeel,Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (H27)
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (H28)
  • Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region (H29)
  • Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region (H30)
  • Yakushima (H5)
  • Shirakami-Sanchi (H5)
  • Shiretoko (H17)
  • Ogasawara Islands (H23)
Official Tentative List
Domestic Candidates Recommended to UNESCO (8 Items)
  • Temples, Shrines, and other Structures of Ancient Kamakura (H4)
  • Hikone-jo(Castle)(H4)
  • Asuka-Fujiwara: Archaeological Sites of Japan’s Ancient Capitals and Related Properties (H19)
  • Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, Northern Tohoku, and other regions (H21)
  • The Sado complex of heritage mines, primarily gold mines (H22)
  • Mozu-Furuichi Kofungun, Ancient Tumulus Clusters (H22)
  • Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land (Extension) (H24)
  • Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island (H28)
Category I a (5 Items)
  • The Cultural Landscape of the Mogami River
  • The Eighty-eight of Shikoku Temples and Pilgrimage Route
  • Amanohashidate
  • Aso
  • Kintai Bridge and the Town of Iwakuni
Category I b (8 Items)
  • (Castle and Castle Town) Hagi, Kanazawa, and Matsumoto Castle
  • (Temple and Surrounding Town) Zenko-ji Temple
  • (Educational Heritage) Ashikaga School, Kodokan, and Shizutani School
  • (Road and Post-Town) Tsumago-juku, Magome-juku, and Nakasendo
Category II (17 Items)
  • Matsushima, the Ashio Copper Mine, Hida Takayama, etc.