Japan Data

World Heritage Sites in Japan

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Ancient tombs in Osaka Prefecture have been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. This is the twenty-third Japanese entry on the prestigious list.

Hints at Ancient Traditions and Societal Structures

On July 6, 2019, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO announced the official registration of the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan on its World Heritage list. It is the first World Heritage site in Osaka Prefecture.

The 49 burial mounds in the group were constructed from the late fourth to the late fifth centuries and are located in the Mozu area in Sakai and the Furuichi area in the cities of Habikino and Fujiidera. They include the 486-meter long, keyhole-shaped Daisen Kofun—the largest burial mound in Japan—where Emperor Nintoku is said to be buried, and the 425-meter long Konda Gobyōyama Kofun, said to be that of Emperor Ōjin. The Daisen Kofun is also one of the largest burial sites in the world. The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a UNESCO advisory body, noted that “the Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group in Japan’s Osaka Prefecture demonstrate in an outstanding way the burial traditions and sociopolitical structures of the Kofun period (third to sixth centuries).”

Japan now has 23 World Heritage sites, including its four World Natural Heritage sites.

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (“the World Heritage Convention”), adopted at the 1972 General Conference of UNESCO, called for a list to be created of natural and cultural sites of “outstanding universal value.”

In December 1993, Japan’s first World Cultural Heritage sites were registered: the Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryūji Temple area (Nara Prefecture) and Himeji-jō Castle (Hyōgo). The eighteenth such site was registered in 2018, with the recognition of the Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region. The country’s first two World Natural Heritage sites were also recognized in December 1993: Yakushima (Kagoshima) and Shirakami-Sanchi (Aomori and Akita). These were followed by Shiretoko (Hokkaidō) and the Ogasawara Islands (Tokyo), bringing the total number of sites to four.

As of June 2019, there are 1,092 World Heritage sites in the globe (845 World Cultural sites, 209 World Natural sites, and 38 mixed properties); a total of 193 countries have signed the “World Heritage Convention.”

World Heritage Sites in Japan Year listed
World Cultural Heritage Sites (Prefecture)
Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryūji Temple Area (Nara) December 1993
Himeji-jō Castle (Hyōgo) December 1993
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto and Shiga)
Kiyomizudera Night & Day (360˚ Panorama)
December 1994
The Historic Villages of Shirakawa-gō and Gokayama (Gifu and Toyama)
World Heritage Site Shirakawa-gō: Snow-covered Roofs in a Traditional Mountain Village (360°/Gigapixel)
December 1995
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Hiroshima)
World Heritage: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) (360° Panorama)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: A Space to Remember the World’s First Atomic Bombing
December 1996
Itsukushima Shintō Shrine (Hiroshima)
World Heritage: Itsukushima Shrine (Time-Lapse Video)
Miyajima: The Wonders of Japan’s Island Shrine (360˚ Panorama)
December 1996
The Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (Nara)
Ancient Messengers: The Timeless Deer of Nara (Photos)
December 1998
The Shrines and Temples of Nikkō (Tochigi)
Yōmeimon Gate Reopens to Public at Nikkō’s Tōshōgū Shrine
December 1999
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū (Okinawa) December 2000
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range (Nara, Wakayama, and Mie) July 2004
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine (Shimane) June 2007
Hiraizumi—Temples, Gardens, and Archaeological Sites (Iwate)
World Heritage: Hiraizumi (Video)
World Heritage in Hiraizumi: Iwate’s Chūsonji Embodies a Buddhist Realm
World Heritage in Hiraizumi: Mōtsūji’s Pure Land Paradise
World Heritage in Hiraizumi: Mount Kinkei and the Ruins of Kanjizaiōin and Muryōkōin
June 2011
Fujisan—Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration (Yamanashi and Shizuoka)
Mount Fuji Through the Lens of Ōyama Yukio (Photos)
Mount Fuji: Where the Spirits Dwell (Photos)
Japan’s Highest Shrine: Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha
Mount Fuji in Edo Arts and Minds
June 2013
Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites (Gunma)
UNESCO Listing for Tomioka Silk Mill: Meiji-Era Structure a Symbol of Japan’s Modernization
June 2014
Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Yamaguchi, Iwate, and Shizuoka)
Gunkanjima: A Sacred Site of Relics (360° Panorama)
Takeaways from the World Heritage Listing for Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution
July 2015
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (National Museum of Western Art; Tokyo)
Tokyo Art Museum Recognized in UNESCO List
July 2016
Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region (Fukuoka)
Sacred Island Selected for UNESCO List
July 2017
Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region (Nagasaki and Kumamoto)
Exploring Nagasaki’s Gotō Islands and the History of the Hidden Christians
The Natural Beauty and Historic Churches of the Gotō Islands (Video)
Sakitsu: A Simple Fishing Village Becomes a World Heritage Site
June 2018
Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan (Osaka)
Japan Burial Site Under Excavation One of World’s Largest
Graves from Japanese History: Things to See and Do in Sakai
July 2019
Natural World Heritage Sites (Prefecture)
Yakushima (Kagoshima) December 1993
Shirakami-Sanchi (Aomori and Akita) December 1993
Shiretoko (Hokkaidō) July 2005
Ogasawara Islands (Tokyo) June 2011
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo: A bird’s eye view of the Daisen Kofun burial mound, where Emperor Nintoku is said to be buried. Photograph by Kuroiwa Masakazu and Fujii Kazuyuki, 96Box.)

World Heritage UNESCO