A garden city from the Middle Ages built around the Onomichi Channel in eastern Hiroshima Prefecture

Japan Heritage: Listening and learning from the voices of history


Japan is a country with a long and rich cultural heritage with many traditions handed down from thousands of years ago. The country has many World Heritage Sites and Designated Cultural Properties which are internationally recognized to add value to cultural properties, thus guaranteeing their protection.

But not everyone knows the history of these sites, which is the purpose of the Japan Heritage designation. Created by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Heritage brings to life the history of these sites, showing how their unique traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. The agency’s goal through Japan Heritage is to revitalize local communities through maintaining and promoting these attractive tangible and intangible cultural properties in Japan and overseas.

Japan Heritage has three primary objectives: To recognize the narratives that bind Japan’s regional cultural properties; to maintain and use these regional cultural properties in a cohesive manner; and to strategically and effectively promote the narratives pertaining to cultural properties within Japan and abroad.

A ninja school in Iga, Mie Prefecture

The Japan Heritage list is quite an impressive one and includes the following: Visiting the 33 Kannon in Aizu through pilgrimage; the ceramics of Hizen: Birthplace of Japanese porcelain ware; a miniature garden city from the Middle Ages built around the Onomichi Channel; Misasa, Japan’s most dangerous national treasure and a world-famous radon hot spring; Murakami Kaizoku, Japan’s largest “pirate” group and their territory in the Geiyo Archipelago; the Daisetsuzan mountain deities and the sacred land of the indigenous Ainu; and the Koka and Iga areas, birthplaces of the two main schools of ninja.

These are just some of the areas with a fascinating historical story to tell, but there are many more.

However, Japan Heritage is very selective about its designations. Applications are usually submitted at the municipal level. A board consisting of professionals from outside the Agency for Cultural Affairs uses three criteria.

— Historically unique traditions or customs that have been passed on for generations.

— A clear theme that supports the area’s appeal and that is represented at the core of the narrative. This can include cultural properties such as structures, archaeological sites, sightseeing spots, and local festivals.

— Inclusion of a narrative, rather than simply a summary of regional history and a description of local cultural properties.

Hizen in Saga Prefecture: Birthplace of Japanese porcelain ware

Furthermore, Japan Heritage status is divided into two categories: Local Category (a narrative pertaining to one city or village) and Collective Category (a narrative pertaining to several cities or villages).

Once a Japan Heritage designation has been awarded, a number of promotion initiatives are carried out. These involve nationwide Japan Heritage coordinators, multilingual websites, brochures, a community of volunteer guides, presentations, exhibitions, workshops, symposiums, maintenance and equipping sites for public use.

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Japan Heritage website

This article is sponsored content from the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

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I hope this doesn't only focus on the post-Yayoi periods. The Jomon lived here peacefully for many thousands of years before the Yahoo and Yamato came across from the Asian mainland...

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Well-chosen article, inspires me to check out Japan's heritage sites further.

In times like these, items like this on JT are a welcome antidote to the gloomy news elsewhere. The normal world still exists, and it'll still be there once all this other crap is over.

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Really ???, learning from history , rebuild the porcelien world and art world. I do not know alot of things but due to my interests in the porcelien world, I know that japan had learn nothing from their history because since 1988, the pottery world in Japan is dying, i was trying to help it but not possible. japan had sold anything that is real. Pls stop killing truth by sales methods that is unpricipled and only ..............................................................

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The first picture, the Onomichi city from a temple on the mountain!.

My wife and I hiked the Onomichi Sanzan (Three Mountains of Onomichi) recently. It was wonderful. Onomichi is a city of Buddhist temples. Each of these three mountains have a temple on the top, but also there are temples everywhere in the city.

Walking narrow streets (called "Cat Streets") are also wonderful, going from one temple to another.

Food was good too. Try Okonomiyaki if you ever visit the city.

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