UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Cultural and Natural Spots

Nara Kasuga-Taisha

Japan has 11 cultural sites and 3 natural sites
from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Japanese UNESCO World Heritage Sites


Hokkaido/Shiretoko National Park

The word "Shiretoko" is an Ainu word meaning "end of the Earth".
One of the most remote regions in all of Japan, much of the area is only accessible on foot or by boat.
The park is best known as the home of Japan's largest brown bear population and for offering views of the disputed Kunashiri Island, claimed by Russia.
The park has a hot springs waterfall called Kamuiwakka Falls, which means "water of the gods" in Ainu.
In 2005, UNESCO designated the area a World Heritage Site, advising to develop the property jointly with Kuril Islands of Russia as a transboundary "World Heritage Peace Park".


Nikko/Shrines and Temples

The UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples of Nikkō encompasses 103 buildings or structures and the natural setting around them.
It is located in Nikkō, 150 km from Tokyo.
The buildings belong to two Shinto shrines (Futarasan Shrine and Tōshō-gū) and one Buddhist temple (Rinnō-ji).
UNESCO listed the site as World Heritage in 1999.


Takayama Area/Shirakawa-go

The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama are one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites designated in 1995.
These villages are well known for their houses constructed in architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri, "prayer-hands construction" style, which is characterized by a thatched and steeply slanting roof resembling two hands joined in prayer.

Golden Pavillion


The UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) encompasses 17 locations in Japan.
13 are Buddhist temples; 3 are Shinto shrines and 1 is a castle.
UNESCO listed the site as World Heritage in 1994. Kyoto is located 500km from Tokyo, or 45km from Osaka.



The UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara encompasses 8 places in the old capital Nara.
5 are Buddhist temples, 1 is a Shinto shrine, 1 is a Palace and 1 a primeval forest.
UNESCO listed the site as World Heritage in 1998.
Nara is located 50km from Osaka, 40km from Kyoto, or 555km from Tokyo.



Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 60km from Osaka.
The locations and paths for this heritage site were based on their historical and modern importance in religious pilgrimages.
It was also noted for its fusion of Shinto and Buddhist beliefs, and a well documented history of traditions over 1,200 years.


Hiroshima/Atomic Bomb Dome and Itsukushima Shrine

Hiroshima has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites designates in 1996.
A-Bomb Dome is a part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park,
which building serves as a memorial to the people who died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima).
The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, having been rebuilt in keeping with its earlier 12th century design.
Hiroshima is located 900km from Tokyo or 350km from Osaka.



Yakushima is an island of about 500 km² and roughly 15,000 islanders
to the south of Kyūshū in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.
It is covered in dense forest noted especially for old growth Cryptomeria trees
known as Sugi in Japan and magnificent Rhododendrons.
Yakushima's unique remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest is a natural World
Heritage Site since 1993.


Okinawa/Kingdom of Ryukyu

Many Gusuku, which is the Okinawan word for "castle" or "fortress.",
in standard Japanese, the same kanji is pronounced "shiro",
and related cultural remains in the Ryūkyū Islands have been listed by UNESCO
as World Heritage Sites under the title Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, in 2000.