In 1992, Japan gained acceptance into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization also known as UNESCO. In order to become a World Heritage site a committee decides which mandates are deemed worthy to be inducted. The World Heritage Committee, which makes the decision, consists of 21 committee members represented by 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention. The current States Parties are from Algeria, Columbia, Croatia, Finland, Germany, India, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Sengal, Serbia, Turkey and Viet Nam. Since then, Japan has participated in the World Heritage Committee, which allowed numerous sites in Japan to have been inducted through the World Heritage Convention. There are a total of 19 sites inscribed into the World Heritage list that is broken down into two categories of Cultural or Natural.
Throughout the history of Japan there are places that have impacted their culture and society. These sites serve as a reminder of the evolution that Japan has undergone. Under the cultural list the Buddhist Monuments in the Horyuji, Fujisan or Mt. Fuji, Gusuku Sites, Himeji-Jo, Hiraizumi, Hiroshima Peace Memorial, historic monuments of Ancient Kyoto and Nara, historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, Pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain, Shrines and temples of Nikko, sites of the Meiji Industrial revolution, Tomioka Silk Mill, and Gunkanjima are the places that have made a mark on Japan’s culture.
Chubu | Gifu | Shirakawa-go
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are best known for their Gassho style houses.
Tohoku | Iwate | Hiraizumi
Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi
Hiraizumi in the southwestern part of Iwate Prefecture is a town extending up the Hiraizumi Hill on the west bank of the Kitakami-gawa River.
Kansai | Nara | Nara City
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Todaiji, Kofukuji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangoji, Yakushiji, Toshodaiji, and Nara Palace were inscribed as Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.
Kansai | Kyoto | Kyoto City
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1994.
Kansai | Wakayama | Mt Koya (Koyasan)
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range
In 2004 Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range were inscribed in World Heritage list for Japan.
Kansai | Hyogo | Himeji
Himeji Castle is one of the twelve original castles in Japan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the best examples of a preserved castle ground.
Chugoku | Shimane | Iwami Ginzan
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine
The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine was once one of the top silver producing mines in the world. This old silver mine is now a major tourist attraction that brings many visitors each year.
Kansai | Nara | Nara City
Horyuji temple is part of the “Seven Great Temples of Nara” and the oldest wooden structures in the world can be found in this area.
Chugoku | Hiroshima | Miyajima Island
The Itsukushima Shrine is best known for its floating torii gate, which is built in the sea.
Chubu | Yamanashi | Mt Fuji
Fujisan, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration
Fujisan, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration refers to the 25 places designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Kyushu | Nagasaki | Nagasaki
An abandoned island which was once the highest populated areas in Japan with a large coal mining facility designated as an UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015.
Kanto | Gunma | Tomioka
Tomioka Silk Mill
Tomioka Silk Mill is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that impacted the industrial age in Japan.
In the Natural category the Ogasawara Islands, Shirakami-Sanchi, Shiretoko and Yukushima were inducted because of their unique and undisturbed habitats. Not only are these places beautiful, but provide a scientific perspective into ecosystems that are becoming rare. By protecting these places people around the world can witness and see a wilderness thriving without restriction. There are also various endangered species that can be found in the different locations, such as the red-crowned crane and the red fox in Hokkaido.
Hokkaido | Shiretoko
Shiretoko - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Shiretoko is a new heritage site just registered in 2005 The area features an ecological system with few equals in the world.
Tohoku | Aomori | Shirakami Mountains
Shirakami-sanchi Mountain Range
The vast primeval beech forest, which is home to a precious population of animals and plants, is just like a forest museum.
Kyushu | Kagoshima | Yakushima Island
Yakushima Island - UNESCO World Heritage Site
A subtropical island located off the southern coast of Kagoshima Prefecture is famous for its 1000 year old trees of Japan.
Kanto | Tokyo | Ogasawara Islands
Ogasawara Islands - UNESCO World Heritage Site
In June 2011, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has inscribed Ogasawara Islands on the World Heritage List as a Natural Heritage site.