Japan's World Heritage Sites

Visit Japan's World Heritage Sites to experience the beauty of Japan, and learn about its fascinating culture and history.

As of July, 2014, there are a total of 18 World Heritage Sites located within Japan. 14 of these are cultural heritage sites, and four are natural. We would like to introduce to you six of these World Heritage Sites here. First up are Japan's natural sites, and we would like to start with Shiretoko, known as Japan's last frontier. Next, we have the Shirakami-Sanchi, a forested mountainous area of Siebold's beech trees untouched by human hands. For cultural sites, Shirakawa-go is a beautifully preserved example of Japan's Gassho-style houses. Itsukushima Shrine, with its Otorii built in the sea itself, leaves a powerful impression on visitors. Himeji-jo is said to be the greatest Japanese castle in existence. The Kii Mountains have a number of temples and shrines built amidst the forests and mountains, and see large numbers of worshippers each year. Visit these and other World Heritage Sites in Japan to experience the real Japan, a Japan filled with verdant forests and cultural masterpieces.


  • Shirakawa-go


    Take a trip to Shirakawa-go, where a village of Gassho-style houses showcases how Japanese have lived close to nature.

    Shirakawa-go is a Cultural World Heritage site located in the town of Shirakawa, Gifu prefecture. Composed of an incredible number (over 110) of Gasshou-style houses , each building sports a thatched roof built in traditional Japanese style. These thatched roofs were designed to minimize the work required to maintain them in heavy snowfalls. Gassho-style houses have roofs of logs, arranged in steep triangles. These roofs resemble the Buddhist praying position known as "Gasshou", where a person joins their palms together, and this is said to be the origin of their name. The beauty of Shirakawa-go is a unique sight.

  • Itsukushima Shrine

    Itsukushima Shrine

    Visit Itsukushima Shrine, where Japan's ancient religious beliefs, nature's beauty, and human ingenuity meet.

    Itsukushima Shrine, located on Miyajima Island of Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima prefecture and accessible only by ferry, is one of Japan’s top three beautiful spots. The shrine was said to have been built 1400 years ago, and is the leading example of traditional Japanese building techniques. Both the roughly 16 meter high Otorii and the corridor linked red lacquered buildings of the shrine appear to be floating on the sea itself during high tide. Don't miss the opportunity to see the inspired and beautiful Itsukushima Shrine.

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  • Himeji-jo


    Stop to see the towering white keep of Himji-jo, Japan's premiere castle.

    Along with Horyu-ji of Nara, Himeji-jo of Himeji, Hyogo prefecture was the first location to be declared a Cultural World Heritage site in Japan. Built in the beginning of the Edo Period (the early 1600s), Himeji-jo is lauded as the pinnacle of Japanese architectural technique and craftsmanship, and as both a Japanese military and a cultural monument it is second to none. Its many floors, reaching high into the air, and its expansive white walls cause it to resemble a bird taking flight, and so it is also known as the White Egret Castle. Make sure to visit Japan's greatest castle, Himeji-jo! *Due to construction scheduled to last until the end of March, 2015, the castle cannot be entered.

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  • Shiretoko


    Experience Shiretoko, a land of mountains and ocean untouched by human hands.

    In July, 2005, the area between the towns of Shari and Rausu in Hokkaido was designated as a Natural World Heritage site. Shiretoko is a unique site, an area where humans have almost never chanced to go. For this fact, it is now called Japan's last frontier. Shiretoko is blessed with a wealth of natural habitats: grasslands, valleys, forests, wetlands, lakes, and marshes all can be found within its confines. However, Shiretoko is not just about geography, the animals living within this untouched region are rare as well. Visit Shiretoko and you may just see the Hokkaido Sika deer, the Ezo red fox, the brown bear, and other animals. We would love for you to experience the beauty of Japan's natural world here at Shiretoko.

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  • Kii Mountains

    Kii Mountains

    The gods of the land still reside within the Kii Mountains.

    The Kii Mountains, listed as a Cultural World Heritage site, straddle three prefectures: Mie, Nara, and Wakayama. In the Kii Mountains, you can find a number of schools of Japanese Buddhism existing in harmony, all linked by a series of pilgrimage routes. The three famous sacred areas here are Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, and Koyasan, and each one of them has played a great role in the development of Japan's religious and cultural heritage. Even now, the mountains and waterfalls that are worshipped as gods are maintained as they always were, nestled in the verdant green of the Kii Mountains. Feel the dignity and quiet beauty of Japan's long religious heritage in the heart of the Kii Mountains.

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  • Shirakami-Sanchi


    Set foot in virgin forests of beech trees, where waterfalls of cool water flow besides a variety of rare and unique plants.

    Shirakami-Sanchi is a large mountainous region located between the northwest of Akita prefecture and the southwest of Aomori prefecture. Here lies one of the largest untouched beech forests in the worlds, kept wet and fertile by the streams and cataracts of clear water flowing through it. Many rare and unique species of animals and plants flourish here, making their homes in the yet unexplored depths of these forested mountains. Explore Shirakami-Sanchi, and be humbled by the ancient beauty of Japan's natural world.