The Japan is one of the countries in the world with many UNESCO World Heritage sites. World heritage, or heritage of humanity, designates a set of properties which have outstanding universal value justifying their inclusion on a list drawn up by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and culture (UNESCO). There are 17 Japanese World Heritage sites and 13 of them are located on the main island of Honshu.

1. Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji region

Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji region, Honshu
Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji region

Located in the Nara prefecture, the 48 Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji region were built in the late 7th or early 8th century and are among the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. They perfectly illustrate the adaptation of Chinese architecture and Buddhist plans to Japanese culture. They have also marked the history of religions because their construction coincides with the introduction of Buddhism in Japan, arriving from China via the Korean peninsula.

2. Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle, Honshu
Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is a Japanese castle located in Himeji in the hyogo prefecture. It was built in the 17th century and consists of 83 buildings with very elaborate defenses and ingenious protection systems built at the start of the shogunate period.

3. Shirakami-Sanchi

Shirakami-Sanchi, Honshu
Shirakami-Sanchi

A wild site, devoid of roads and trails, located in the mountains of northern Honshu in Japan on the edge of the Aomori prefecture and some Akita prefecture and which has retained the last pristine stands of cold temperate Siebold beech forests that once covered the mountain slopes of northern Japan. Its forests are home to black bears, serow and 87 species of birds.

4. Historical monuments of ancient Kyoto

Historical monuments of ancient Kyoto, Honshu
Historical monuments of ancient Kyoto

Built in 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its founding until the middle of the 19th century. The city was the center of Japanese culture for over 1,000 years. Kyoto traces the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens. The historical monuments of ancient Kyoto are a set of 17 temples, shrines and castle located in the city of Kyoto or in the neighboring towns of Uji and Otsu.

5. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, Honshu
Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

These villages are best known for their typical houses with thatched roofs with a very steep double slope in order to withstand the heavy snowfall of this mountainous region. Despite the economic upheavals, the villages of Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma remain exceptional witnesses of the perfect adaptation of traditional life to its environment and to its social function.

6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), Honshu
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

This building is the only one that remained standing after the explosion of the first American atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. The ruins are preserved in the state they were just after the bombardment. It is a powerful symbol of the greatest destructive force created by man.

7. Historical monuments of ancient Nara

Historical monuments of ancient Nara, Honshu
Historical monuments of ancient Nara

Nara was the capital of Japan between 710 and 784. The historical monuments of Nara – Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, as well as the excavations of the great imperial palace – offer a striking picture of what was the capital of Japan in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

8. Shrines and temples of Nikko

Shrines and temples of Nikko, Honshu
Nikko shrines and temples

The shrines and temples of Nikko, as well as the natural surroundings that surround them, have for centuries been a sacred place where masterpieces of architecture and artistic decoration have been erected. They are closely linked to the history of the Tokugawa shoguns.

9. Sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains

Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountains, Honshu
Sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountains

Nestled in the heart of dense forests, in the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites, Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan and Koyasan, linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion between the Shinto, rooted in the ancient Japanese tradition of the cult of nature, and Buddhism from China and the Korean peninsula to settle in Japan.

10. Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape, Honshu
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

The site is a collection of mountains rich in silver ore that rises to an altitude of 600 m in the southwest of the island of Honshu and which is intersected by deep river valleys. There are the archaeological remains of vast mines, smelting and refining sites, as well as mining settlements in use from the 16th to the 20th century. Roads made it possible to transport the silver ore to the coast and to the ports from where it left for Korea and China.

11. Hiraizumi – Temples, gardens and archaeological sites representing the Buddhist Pure Land

Hiraizumi - Temples, gardens and archaeological sites representing the Buddhist Pure Land, Honshu
Hiraizumi – Temples, gardens and archaeological sites representing the Buddhist Pure Land

Hiraizumi brings together six sites, including the sacred mountain Kinkeisan. There are remains of government buildings from the 11th and 12th centuries, when Hiraizumi was the administrative heart of the Northern Kingdom of Japan and rivaled Kyoto. The kingdom reflected the cosmology of Buddhism of the Pure Land, precepts that spread to Japan in the 8th century.

12. Mount Fuji, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

Mount Fuji, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration, Honshu
Mount Fuji, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

The beauty of this solitary, often snowcapped volcano, towering above villages, the sea and tree-lined lakes, has inspired artists and poets. It has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. The inscribed site includes 25 properties that reflect the spirit of this sacred artistic landscape.

13. The Tomioka silk mill and related industrial heritage

Tomioka silk mill and related industrial heritage, Honshu
The Tomioka silk mill and related industrial heritage

Created in 1872, this historic sericulture and silk spinning complex is located in the Gunma prefecture, north-west of Tokyo. Built by the government, with machines imported from France, it consists of four sites that correspond to the different stages of raw silk production. The site illustrates Japan’s desire for rapid access to the best techniques of mass production and it has been a decisive element in the revival of Japanese sericulture and silk production from the last quarter of the 19th century. It testifies to the country’s entry into the modern industrialized world.

See as well

Hie Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

Sources:
13 UNESCO world heritage sites of Honshu
Unesco World Heritage Center

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