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Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Cultural Heritage


There are 16 World Heritage sites in Japan inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List (as of July, 2011). It consists of 12 cultural heritage sites and 4 natural heritage sites. Below is a list of Japan's cultural heritage sites. (They are listed chronologically by year of inscription.)

Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Temple Area

Year of Inscription: 1993 / Culture Heritage
Location: Ikaruga-cho, Nara Prefecture
Access: 20 minute walk from JR Horyuji Station to Horyuji
The main hall and the five-story pagoda in Horyuji Temple are known as the oldest wooden buildings in the world.

  • Horyuji Temple
  • Hokiji Temple
  • Himeji-jo

    Year of Inscription: 1993 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Himeji-city, Hyogo Prefecture
    Access: About 15 minute walk from JR Himeji Station
    Himeji-jo is known as the most beautiful castle in Japan. It's called as shirasagi-jo (white heron castle) because of the white walls.

    For more information:
    Himeji Convention & Visitors Bureau

    Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto

    Year of Inscription: 1994 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Kyoto Prefecture and Shiga Prefecture

    Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

    Year of Inscription: 1995 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Gifu Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture
    Access: From Nagoya, it takes about 3 hours by bus from Meitetsu Bus Center to Shirakawago. From Takayama, it takes about one hour by bus to Shirakawago. (Schedules vary by season.)
    It takes about 50 minutes by JR train from JR Takaoka Station to Johana Station in Toyama. From JR Johana Station, it takes about 40 minutes by bus to Gokayama.
    These areas located in northern Gifu are known for its heavy snowfalls in winter, and there are interesting gasshozukuri-style houses with thatched roofs.

  • Shirakawa-go, Shirakawa Village, Gifu
  • Gokayama, Nanto-city, Toyama
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial

    Year of Inscription: 1996 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Hiroshima-city, Hiroshima Prefecture
    Access: Hiroshima Dentetsu Line Genbaku-Dome-mae Stop
    Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome) is a building destroyed by the atomic bombing in 1945 which was kept as a reminder of Hiroshima's tragedy.

    For more information:
    Atomic Bomb Dome Website by Hiroshima-city (Japanese version)

    Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

    Year of Inscription: 1996 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture
    Access: It takes about 30 minutes from JR Hiroshima Station to Miyajima-guchi Station by JR local train. It takes 10 minutes from Miyajima-guchi Pier to Miyajima Pier by JR West Miyajima Ferry or Miyajima Matsudai Kisen ship. 10 minute walk from Miyajima Pier to Itsukushima Shrine.
    Itsukushima Shrine is situated in Miyajima Island (Itsukushima) which is about 8 miles southwest of the center of Hiroshima-city in the Seto Inland Sea. For more information: Miyajima Sightseeing Official Website

    Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

    Year of Inscription: 1998 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Nara Prefecture
    Japan's ancient capital called Heijo-kyo was located in Nara. Nara is full of historical landmarks. It's located east of Osaka-city and south of Kyoto-city and is easily accessible from both cities.

  • Todaiji Temple
  • Koufukuji Temple
  • Kasuga Taisha Shrine
  • Kasugayama Genshirin 
  • Gangouji Temple
  • Yakushiji Temple
  • Toshodaiji Temple
  • Heijo-kyo Palace Site
  • For more information:
    Nara World Heritage Information by Nara City Tourist Association

    Shrines and Temples of Nikko

    Year of Inscription: 1999 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Nikko-city, Tochigi Prefecture
    Access: It takes about two hours by Tobu Railway limited express train Asakusa Station to Nikko Station.
    Nikko is located about 70 miles north of central Tokyo. There are lots of historical sites to see in Nikko.

  • Futarasan-jinja Shrine
  • Nikko Toshogu Shrine
  • Rinnouji Temple
  • Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

    Year of Inscription: 2000 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Okinawa Prefecture
    Gusuku are Okinawa-style castles found in Okinawa and Amami islands.

  • Nakijin-gusuku-ato, Nakijin Village
  • Zakimi-gusuku-ato, Yomitan Village
  • Katsuren-gusuku-ato, Uruma-city
  • Nakagusukujo-ato, Nakagusuku Village
  • Shurijo-ato, Naha-city
  • Sonohyan-utaki-ishimon, Naha-city
  • Tamaudun, Naha-city
  • Shikina-en Garden, Naha-city
  • Seifautaki, Nanjo-city
  • For more information:
    Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau Website

    Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

    Year of Inscription: 2004 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Mie Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, and Wakayama Prefecture

  • Yoshino and Oomine
  • Kumano Sanzan
  • Kouyasan 
  • Pilgrimage Routes, including Kumano River in Nara, Wakayama, and Mie prefectures

    For more information:
    The World Heritage Page by Wakayama Prefecture

  • Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

    Year of Inscription: 2007 / Culture Heritage
    Location: Ooda-city, Shimane Prefecture
    Access: JR Sanin Honsen Line Oodashi Station
    The area produced minerals for about 400 years from the early 16th century to the early 20th century.

    Fore more information:
    Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Page by Shimane Prefecture


    Year of Inscription: 2011 / Culture Heritage Location: Hiraizumi-town, Iwate Prefecture
    Access: Go to Tohoku Shinkansen Ichinoseki Station. It takes 7 minutes by JR local train from Ichinoseki to Hiraizumi Station
    Hiraizumi flourished for about one hundred years from the late 11th century as a Buddhist city. Many valuable cultural heritages still remain.

    "Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land"

  • Chusonji Temple
  • Motsuji Temple
  • Kanjizaio-in Ato
  • Muryoko-in Ato
  • Yanaginogosho Iseki
  • Mt. Kinkei

    For more information:
    Hiraizumi Tourist Association
    World Heritage Hiraizumi by Iwate Prefecture

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