7 Japanese sites waiting to be on UNESCO's World Heritage List

2019年 02月28日

Japan continues to prove its cultural, historical and natural richness, with many sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. In 2018, the hidden Christians of the Nagasaki region, including the sanctuaries, caves and churches of Goto islands were added to the list. But many other sites are waiting to be included in this ranking. We present you 7 other incredible places, true treasures of the past, to learn more about the Japanese culture and history.

1. The temples and shrines of Kamakura

Ancient samurai city, once the political capital of Japan from 1192 to 1333 established by the famous samurai Minamoto no Yoritomo when he was appointed as Seii-Taishogun (shogun) by the Imperial court. Kamakura city recieves many visitors from home and abroad. The city now retains exceptional vestiges of the history, possessing one of the largest seated Buddha statues of the archipelago. The statues is refered as "The Great Buddha of Kamakura" whose is about 13.5 meters high, made by bronze in the 13th century, sits on on the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple. Kamakura is also home to Japan's the most important Zen temple out of five great Zen temples, Kencho-ji Temple, surrounded by beautiful forest. And this temple is just one example of many famous temples and shrines, such as Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine, or the Hase-dera temple and its beautiful hydrangea gardens. Many wonders are to contemplate in this small seaside town where the old Enoden tramway still circulates in the narrow lanes to the open sea, to the sacred island of Enoshima.

Click here to see our excursion to Kamakura.

2. The Hikone Castle

In the medieval times of Japan was the age of provincial wars, the country was divided into several states, each led by a lord. But a decisive battle occurs at Sekigahara in 1600, "Sekigahara no tatakai" location is currently Gifu prefecture, pitted the samurai armies from the east and west. It was the revered Tokugawa Ieyasu who came out triumphant and united Japan for the first time. It was the first Shogunate. Hikone Castle, located on Lake Biwa in Shiga prefecture near Kyoto, was Tokugawa's offering to his favorite lord, Naomasa li (the four great generals serving Tokugawa), in honor of his bravery on the battlefield. Hikone Castle therefore has a capital historical importance, symbol of the unification of the country. Many daimyo survived until 1868. Its structure is composed of different architectural styles that makes the castle unique, and at the base of the castle, there is a beautiful Japanese garden, the garden Genkyu En.

3. Fujiwara archaeological site, former capital of Japan in the Asuka region.

The Asuka region near Nara guards the remains of the ancient city of Fujiwara, the first imperial capital of Japan from 694 to 710. Archaeological excavations have revealed traces of a vast palace of more than 1 km² in a city whose area would have been 5 kilometers. Today we still learn about the construction technologies of the time and we found ancient tombs and walls decorated with paintings. The city of Fujiwara burned while Nara became the new capital, and was never rebuilt.

4. Jomon archaeological sites in Hokkaido, northern Tohoku region and other areas.

These sites represent Japan over 10,000 years ago when the people live in hunting, fishing, gathering. The Jomon period is linked to the discovery of many potteries some of which have been dated to over 16,500 years. Many reconstructed sites are found on Hokkaido Island and in the northern region of Tohoku. You can observe the way of life of the primitive peoples of Japan from the remains of ancient camps and traces of ancient rituals. Those sites are: the Ofune site at Hakodate (Hokkaido), or Sannai-Maruyama at Aomori, or the Jomon habitat reconstructions in Iwate Prefecture at the Goshono.

5. Kofun (tombs built in the 3rd to 7th century) of Mozu-Furuichi

In the middle of the 3rd century, Queen Himiko ruled Japan (at the time without the Okinawa Islands, Hokkaido Island and North Honshu). According to a legend, a gigantic tomb was built in her honor at her death. It was in 2009 that a group of researchers discovered that the Kofun (tumulus) Hashihaka, located in Nara prefecture in Sakurai, would probably be the grave of Himiko. However, there are different stories about where Himiko lived, one is the kinki region and another is the kyushu island.
In fact, there are more than 80,000 of Kofun (gigantic lock-shaped tombs) have been discovered across the country, and one of the largest is the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun located on the outskirts of Osaka. This practice would be dated from the 3rd to the 7th century. The identity of those buried remains a mystery today. But weapons, armors, and tools were discovered that demonstrating the technological and military power had already very advanced at the time.

6. The Sado Island Gold Mine
Japan's largest gold mine is located on Sado Island, off Niigata in western Japan. It was operated for nearly 400 years (from the Edo period to 1989), and nearly 80 tonnes of gold were removed, plus several hundred tonnes of silver and other minerals. We can visit this site today, and admire the surrounding nature. Several paths are possible including guided tours inside the cave. We can therefore learn about mining techniques and their evolution during all these years. In 1601, the island of Sado had about ten houses, this place being inhabited in part by intellectuals fleeing the government. But soon after the gold was found, the island had 100,000 inhabitants. Also oval gold coin (Koban) were minted in the Edo period.

7. Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, the northern part of Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island

The paradise island of Amami Oshima is located off Kyushu, bathed in an exceptional natural landscape, fine sand beaches, transparent sea and mangrove forests in perfect harmony. This island is comparable to the island of Iriomote, in the extreme south of the Okinawa archipelago, having the same type of landscape and natural wealth. In addition, like Tokunoshima, they conserve a rare flora and fauna. There are species of reptiles, amphibians, and birds of exceptional breeds, and we can also mention the wildcat Iriomote, a unique and protected species where the spider monkey Amami Oshima that can be seen during a kayak trip in the mangrove. In the virgin forests still lives the Amami black rabbit, a primitive species that already existed 10,000,000 years ago.