Mount Fuji (2013)

Japan 1creativecommons.org/midorisyu

Sitting at 3,776 metres above sea level, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. There are some people who worship Mount Fuji, or rather, the deities that are said to reside within the mountain. It’s seen as a symbol of death and rebirth due to the awe caused by its volcanic explosions.

Buddhist Monuments, Horyu-ji Area (1993)

Japan 2creativecommons.org/Kzaral

The Horyu-ji Temple in the Nara prefecture is the oldest wooden building in the world. It houses 38 of Japan's national treasures and 151 other important cultural assets. Within the protected grounds are numerous Buddhist relics, including a life-sized statue of Shotoku Taishi, the temple's founder.

Himeji-jo (1993)

Japan 3creativecommons.org/Jo B

Himeji-jo is a castle that was established in 1346 and expanded upon by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Edo period. This pure white castle survived not only the turbulent Warring States period of Japan's history, but also the devastation of World War II.

Shirakami-Sanchi (1993)

Japan 4creativecommons.org/Hajime Nakano

These vast primeval beech forests span the Aomori and Akita prefecture, representing some of the last great beech forests that remain in east Asia. Shirakami-Sanchi is now a popular destination for trekkers who are awarded for the hard hiking by beautiful waterfalls and some of the most serene natural forest in all of Japan.

Yakushima (1993)

Japan 5creativecommons.org/Matthias Mueller

Yakushima is a round island off the southern coast off the Kagoshima prefecture. What makes this island so special is that it has the largest seasonal and temperature changes on earth. It is possible to see subtropical species of plants and animals as well as cold temperature plants and animals. Due to this unique climate, the island also plays host to unique breeds of animals that can only be found on the island.

Historic Monuments Of Ancient Kyoto (1994)

Japan 6creativecommons.org/takao goto

Kyoto is a city that serves as a monument to Japan. Within the city there are 13 temples, three religious shrines and Nijo castle — all of which are preserved world heritage sites. Kyoto demonstrates iconic Japanese culture, architecture and history at every turn.

Historic Villages Of Shirakawa-go & Gokayama (1995)

Japan 7creativecommongs.org/Greg Palmer

The villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are not preserved due to their unique ‘gassho’ style mountain village architecture. These houses have high triangle roofs that symbolize hands folded in prayer.

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (1996)

Japan 8creativecommons.org/Pete Birkinshaw

The Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Miyajima is said to be one of the three most scenic spots in all of Japan. The beautiful archway-like gate is completely submerged at high tide, but it is possible to walk up to it at low tide. The shrine is dedicated to the god that protects people from war and sea disasters.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (1996)

Japan 9creativecommons.org/Francisco Antunes

The Genbaku Dome is the centerpiece to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The dome marks the site of the ruins of the previous Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall. The World War II atomic blast occurred almost directly above this spot, so the walls of this building were partially spared from the devastation. This spot was registered as a world heritage spot as a symbol of prayer for permanent world peace and the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Historic Monuments Of Ancient Nara (1998)

Japan 10creativecommons.org/Tanaka Juuyoh

Nara is Japan's most ancient capital city – dating back further than even Kyoto. One of the city’s most famous monuments is the 14-metre-high Great Buddha in the Daibutsuden. The Buddha’s right hand is positioned to the front to give strength, while his left hand lies palm open on his knee to symbolize the granting of wishes.

Shrines And Temples Of Nikko (1999) Japan 11creativecommons.org/Gwydion M WilliamsToshogu Shrine is where the first Shogun of the Edo Shogunate Ieyasu Tokugawa was enshrined after his death. The Futarasan-jinja Shrine is home to Bakedoro, which is said to be a haunted garden lantern. The legend says that the lantern turns into a frightening shape when lit as night.

Gusuku Sites Of The Kingdom Of Ryukyu (2000)

Japan 12creativecommons.org/Shig Iso

The Gusuku Sites are ruins of the ancient Kingdom of Ryukyu. Influenced by both Chinese and Korean architecture, the Gusuku are the castle-like buildings that protected the people.

Sacred Sites & Pilgrimage Routes In The Kii Mountain Range (2004)

Japan 13creativecommons.org/FuFu Wolf

These are three sacred sites across the Nara, Wakayama and Mie prefectures:  Yoshino/Omine, Kumano Sanzan, Koya-san and the pilgrimage routes that connect them. These ancient religious sites combine the old religions with the new, spanning everything from ancient mountain worship with Buddhism and Taoism.

Shiretoko (2005)

Japan 14creativecommons.org/Hajime Nakano

The natural heritage site of Shiretoko is considered to be the last pristine wilderness that remains in Japan. Located in northern Hokkaido, the forest is home to several protected species. B

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine (2007)

Japan 15creativecommons.org/GanMed64

This mine produced some of the world's highest quality silver when it was active from 1526 to 1923. In the 16th century approximately one-third of all silver in circulation throughout the world was mined there.

Hiraizumi (2011)

Japan 16creativecommons.org/Tanaka Juuyoh

Hiraizumi is a village that has withstood the test of time. Over 3,000 treasures are preserved within this town as a testament to the Fujiwara clan that once lived there.

Ogasawara Islands (2011)

Japan 17creativecommons.org/yuichi 0613

Only accessible by boat, the Ogasawara Islands lie 1,000 kilometres south of Japan's main archipelago. This group of islands is referred to as the ‘Galapagos of the Orient’. It is said that within the solitude of the Ogasawara Islands, it feels as if the stars have pulled you right into the sky and you can truly feel the heartbeat of the earth.

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