Japanese tangible and intangible cultural heritage is a collective inheritance in the form of regional histories, traditions, customs and festivals which have been passed down from generation to generation through narratives, performance, preservation and story-telling. They speak of the legacies of our varied cultures and histories and have been designated as “Japan Heritage” by the Agency of Cultural Affairs.

「日本遺産(Japan Heritage)」は地域の歴史的魅力や特色を通じて我が国の文化・伝統を語るストーリーを「日本遺産(Japan Heritage)」として文化庁が認定するものです。

<本ページの情報は『平成29年度文化庁委託事業「創造都市国際交流事業 日本へのクリエイティブな旅」展における日本遺産国際発信事業』により作成されたものです。>

Outline of Japan Heritage


The Mission of Japan Heritage

Heritage is a connection to our past, a legacy of our cultural and history and an invaluable source of inspiration to pass on to future generations. The Agency for Cultural Affairs Japan Heritage aims to promote our unique cultural traditions, encourage use of our national cultural properties, and to revitalise regional economies. Japan’s tangible and intangible cultural properties have been preserved through narratives based on unique regional histories and traditions.

By recognizing these histories as Japan Heritage, the Agency plans to promote our historical legacies and to provide comprehensive support so that our heritage may be effectively preserved and maintained. While the emphasis in registering for World Heritage or for designation as a cultural property is focused on assessing the values of the subject properties and to ensure their preservation, Japan Heritage has a different focus, which is to gather the legacies scattered within a region into a cohesive story. The objective is to publicise such stories and utilise them to promote revitalisation of the local communities.



文化庁では、地域の歴史的魅力や特色を通じて我が国の文化・伝統を語るストーリーを「日本遺産 Japan Heritage)」として認定し、ストーリーを語る上で不可欠な魅力ある有形・無形の様々な文化財群を総合的に活用する取組を支援します。

Source: JAPAN HERITAGE pamphlet, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan


The Primary Objectives of Japan Heritage

1. To recognise the narratives that bind Japan’s regional cultural properties

2. To maintain and use those regional cultural properties in a cohesive manner

3. To strategically and effectively promote the narratives pertaining to cultural properties within Japan and abroad






Criteria for Japan Heritage Designation

Japan Heritage designation is based on three criteria:

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

2. A clear theme that supports an area’s appeal and which is represented at the core of the narrative.

This can include cultural properties such as buildings and structures, archaeological sites, sightseeing spots, and local festivals.

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

Japan Heritage status is divided into two categories:

1. Local Category: A narrative pertaining to one city or village

2. Collective Category: A narrative pertaining to several cities or villages








2.「シリアル型」…… 複数の市町村にまたがってストーリーが展開

Future Initiatives


The Number of Stories for Japan Heritage Designation

The governmenth as estimated that the number of annual foreign tourists to Japan will reach 20 million by the year 2020. In preparation for 2020 and that year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics it is the aim that Japan Heritage sites be designated throughout Japan to attract tourists and revitalize different regions and multiple local economies. However, it is important that the number of Japan Heritage sites is limited in order to maintain a high standard of quality and integrity. Therefore, the Agency for Cultural Affairs plans to limit the award of Japan Heritage designation to a maximum of approximately 100 sites by 2020. The Agency also plans to provide monetary support for Japan Heritage through a fund administered by the Japan Arts Council called “The Japan Heritage Promotion Project.”



“The Japan Heritage Promotion Project” Initiatives

1. Promotion and Training: nationwide Japan Heritage coordinators, multilingual website, video

materials, a community of volunteer guides

2. Publicity and Education: presentations, exhibitions, workshops, symposiums and public relations

events aimed at domestic and foreign audiences, Japan Heritage Expert certification

3. Research and Study: information gathering, and documentation related to potential Japan Heritage sites

4. Equipping Sites for Public Use: directional and explanatory signage, lavatories, and seating



情報発信、人材育成事業: 日本遺産コーディネーターの配置、多言語HP・映像資料の作成、ボランティア解説員の育成など

普及啓発事業: 発表会、展覧会、ワークショップ、シンポジウムの開催、PRイベント(国内外)の開催、日本遺産検定の実施など

調査研究事業: 未指定の構成文化財を対象とした資料収集など

公開活用のための整備に係る事業: ストーリーの理解に有効なガイダンス機能の強化、周辺環境整備(トイレ・ベンチ、説明板の設置など)

The Canal That Ensured

the Future of Asaka

Okubo Toshimichi’s Last Dream and the Footprints of a Pioneer


大久保利通最期の夢と開拓者の軌跡 郡山・猪苗代

Category :Collective


Area :Koriyama city, Inawashiro town,

所在自治体 :郡山市・猪苗代町


After the Meiji Restoration, Lord Okubo Toshimichi hoped to provide relief to the impoverished samurai class and to modernize Koriyama’s Asaka area by creating new industries. He dreamed of developing the land in Asaka by building a connecting canal from Lake Inawashiro, on the west side of Koriyama. Okubo’s dream eventually came true, albeit posthumously, with the completion of the Asaka Development and Canal Project. Building the canal required cutting through the Ou Mountain Range. It was a project that brought labour, materials, and technology to the area from all over Japan as well as state-of-the-art technology from abroad. The effective use of the lake waters also enriched the local culinary culture with rice and carp. New industrial development followed, with hydro-electric power plants on the canal which supplied power to the newly established textile mills. The cherry trees that line the canal remind us of the pioneer’s vision for future generations and of the area’s resulting diversity and harmony.



Lake Inawashiro   l   猪苗代湖

Numagami Power Station   l   沼上発電所

Jurokkyo Sluice   l   十六橋水門


A Historical and Cultural Mosaic



Category :Local


Area:Kamakura city

所在自治体: 鎌倉市


Kamakura developed rapidly as a city when Minamoto no Yoritomo established his capital there. He built the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine. His new government, Kamakura Shogunate, cut new passes called “kiridoshi” into the mountains in order to create entrance routes into the city, and it founded large temples at the foot of its mountains. In the early Modern period, this centre of historic importance and nostalgic longing for the ancient samurai culture returned to the spotlight as a place of faith and leisure. Although during the late Modern period many second homes have been built in the area, Kamakura has retained its historic character and beautiful natural environment. Currently, Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) period temples and shrines exist next to architecture and infrastructure from various historic periods and styles, and many industries and events are imbued with the artistic culture left by famous literary figures. Present-day Kamakura is a cultural mosaic that recognises and preserves the distinct historic influences that coexist harmoniously and have created its multi-faceted history.




Kamakurabori Lacquerwork    l   鎌倉彫

Bonbori Festival, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine   l   鶴岡八幡宮 ぼんぼり(雪洞)祭

Koga Residence   l  古我邸

The Noto Peninsula

Where the Light Dances

灯(あか)り舞う半島 能登


Category: Collective

Area:Nanao, Wajima, Suzu cities; Shika, Anamizu, Noto town




For centuries the Noto Peninsula, which juts out into the Sea of Japan, was at the center of cultural exchange. This allowed the peninsula to develop its own distinctive culture comprising numerous local matsuri (festivals). The most celebrated among them are the Kiriko Festivals with their illuminated lantern parade floats. Each summer around 200 districts are lit with tall kiriko lantern floats, and residents of ancient farming and fishing villages form processions in which they carry mikoshi (portable shrines) and kiriko, which can weigh up to 2 tons each and reach heights of 15 meters. These floats compete for the honor of being judged the most fierce and spirited. The festival’s origins can be found in the Gion-shinko faith and in Japan’s summer purification rites. The Noto Peninsula is the only region in Japan where such a large number of lantern festivals take place. A summertime visit to the region would not be complete without encountering one of these festivals and experiencing the spiritual presence of the Japanese kami (deities).



Abare Festival (Noto town)     l   あばれ祭り(能登町)

Okinami-tairyo Festival (Anamizu town)     l   沖波の大漁祭り(穴水町)

Saikai Festival (Shika town)     l    西海祭り(志賀町)

Iga and Koka, Lands of Stealth

Seeking Real-Life Ninjas

忍びの里 伊賀・甲賀




Area:Koga,Iga cities



Nowadays, ninjas are widely known due to their appearances in TV shows and anime. They have captivated people worldwide with their novel forms of martial art. Though the term ‘ninja’ has entered the common lexicon there are actually very few people who know of their true identities and origins. The Iga and Koka areas, known as the birthplace of ninjas, was also home to the type of ninjas that we hear of today. These ninjas practiced the Iga/Koka style of ninjutsu (the skills of stealth and secrecy essential for a ninja) which came about because of the area’s rich religious culture and diverse array of lifestyles. They built many castles that utilised the complex terrain, and they cooperated in governing and maintaining peace throughout the area. Step into the original land of stealth, follow in their footprints, and the true identity of the ninja begins to emerge. In the Iga and Koka areas there remains, even now, the memory of the ninjas who swept all before them during a time of war and conflict.



Flying ninja l    翔ぶ忍者

Aburahi-jinja Shrine Cherry Blossoms l    油日神社の桜

A Site for Purifying the Six Roots of Perception and Healing the Six Senses

Japan’s Most Dangerous National Treasure and Temple and a World-Famous Radon Hot Spring





Area:Misasa town



Mount Mitoku features a characteristic landscape that interweaves steep topography, used as the training ground for mountain asceticism, with architecture which displays the syncretic fusion of Shintoism and Buddhism in its design and structure. The solemnity of the mountain has continued to inspire awe for 1000 years. Misasa Onsen serves as a place where visitors can purify both body and mind before making a pilgrimage to Mount Mitoku. According to a local legend, a traveller on a pilgrimage to the mountain was introduced to the hot spring by a white wolf. 900 years after its discovery, Misasa Onsen continues to retain close ties to the religious beliefs at Mount Mitoku. Visitors today purify their six roots of perception (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind) through a religious pilgrimage to the mountain’s sheer cliff, in the course of which they enter a unique world through the healing of their six senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and spirit) at the therapeutic springs.


「三徳山(みとくさん)」は、山岳修験の場としての急峻な地形と神仏習合の特異の意匠・構造を持つ建築とが織りなす独特の景観を有しており、その人を寄せ付けない厳かさは1000年にわたって畏怖の念を持って守られ続けている。参拝の前に心身を清める場所として三徳山参詣の拠点を担った「三朝(みささ)温泉」は、三徳山参詣の折に白狼により示されたとの伝説が残り、温泉発見から900年を経て、なお、三徳山信仰と深くつながっている。今日、三徳山参詣は、断崖絶壁での参拝により「六根(ろっこん: 目、耳、鼻、舌、身、意)」を清め、湯治により「六感(ろっかん: 観、聴、香、味、触、心)」を癒すという、ユニークな世界を具現化している。

Mount Mitoku Fire-walking: Ritual in which barefoot monks walk over burning goma sticks on which people have written their wishes    l    三徳山火渡り 人々の願い事を書いた護摩木の火の上を素足で歩くという神事

Nageiredo Temple: Symbol of Mount Mitoku. Its construction remains a mystery    l    三仏寺奥院(投入堂):三徳山のシンボル。その建立方法は謎のまま


The Pilgrimage Route and 88 Temples of Shikoku





Area:Tokushima Prefecture, Kochi Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture,Kagawa Prefecture & 57 local government office

所在自治体:愛媛県、高知県、徳島県、香川県 各県内57市町村


The Shikoku Henro is a pilgrimage route of 88 temples established by the great Buddhist priest, Kukai (Kobo Daishi), over 1200 years ago on Shikoku Island. It is one of the world’s longest circular pilgrimage routes, extending some 1400 kilometres across Shikoku’s regions of Awa, Tosa, Iyo, and Sanuki. Pilgrims still make the journey on steep mountain roads, up long stone stairways, through pastoral countryside, along calm seashores and around remote promontories. Walking the paths, visitors often come across other pilgrims also journeying around Shikoku. This circular type of pilgrimage is different from those practised under Christianity or Islam which focus on the voyage to and return from a holy place. In Japan, anyone can be a pilgrim regardless of nationality or religion, and all are sure to receive a warm welcome from the locals. Walking the “Henro Route” and retracing the footsteps of Kukai (Kobo Daishi)–whether for the sake of a memorial, personal discipline, redemption, or health–is a spiritual journey and a rare opportunity to experience the culture of pilgrimage and also of Shikoku Island.



“Henro Route at Sunrise”   l   「夜明けの遍路」

“Rakan Henro Route”  l    「羅漢遍路」

2000 Years of Rice Paddies

Rice Cultivation Then and Now in The Kikuchi River Basin





Area:Yamaga, Tamana, Kikuchi cities, Nagomi town



Even now the land of the Kikuchi River Basin retains legacies of over 2000 years of rice cultivation: in the flatlands, rice paddies allotted through the jori (a system of land subdivision in ancient Japan) and passed down through the generations; in the mountains, the ide (canals) and rice terraces that enabled rice cultivation on elevated ground; on the beach, the reclamation that produced vast areas of arable land. Examples of these systems, devised by our predecessors in order to use the land in more productive ways, are still visible in modern times but concentrated into this area. With its lively festivals and rich food culture the Kikuchi River Basin can be considered a miniature model of Japan’s culture of rice cultivation in many ways. It is a unique location where one can encounter both the entertainment and food culture borne of rice cultivation and a distinctive cultural landscape.



Japanese mitten crab rice bowl and soup (Nagomi town) l    ガネめし、ガネ汁(和水町)

Kikuchi Valley (Kikuchi city) l    菊池渓谷( 菊池市)

Bandokoro Rice Terrace (Yamaga city) l    番所の棚田(山鹿市)

The Four Dynamic Coastal Cities of Yokosuka, Kure, Sasebo, and Maizuru

Centres of Japanese Modernisation

鎮守府 横須賀・呉・佐世保・舞鶴


Category :Collective


Area:Yokosuka,Kure,Category Area Sasebo,Maizuru cities



During the Meiji period (1868-1912), as an emerging modern state Japan urgently needed to protect its waters and coastline to compete with Western powers. To do so the government selected four ideal natural harbours which, at that time, were home to quiet fishing villages, and rapidly established them as naval ports. Naval institutions and infrastructure, such as water lines and rail access, were installed, whilst state-of-the-art technology and labour were poured into these ports. The resulting four naval port cities thereby created helped to push forward Japan’s modernisation. Currently, many facilities in the four cities remain in operation, reminding visitors of their historical roles, whilst the old ports with their dignified histories continue to attract visitors. in many ways.



Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, 1st Office of Kure District Headquarters (formerly the Kure Naval District Office) (Kure city)   l    海上自衛隊呉地方総監部第一庁舎(旧呉鎮守府庁舎)(呉市)

Former Maizuru Naval Base Warehouse Facility (Maizuru city)    l    舞鶴旧鎮守府倉庫施設(舞鶴市)

Sasebo Heavy IndustriesCo., Ltd. Sasebo Shipyard Complex (Sasebo city)    l    佐世保重工業(株)佐世保造船所施設群(佐世保市)