japan_heritage

Japan boasts an abundance of beautiful and scenic nature locales such as Mount Fuji and a rich heritage of historical sites and buildings such as ancient temples and shrines in Kyoto and Nara made of wood. Many of these have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. In this special "Japan Heritage" section, we explore Japan's scenic sites and places of historic and cultural interest that the world cherishes as part of our living heritage.

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Greenery on the mountain is recovering on Mimamijima island in Ogasawara. (Yusuke Fukui)
Tourism up, common sense down, on Ogasawara islands
OGASAWARA ISLANDS--With its listing as a World Natural Heritage site, the Ogasawara island chain has faced an inevitable surge in tourists--and among them visitors lacking...
The mountains that surround Lake Towadako span both Aomori and Akita prefectures. The area is an ideal spot to enjoy autumn's colorful leaves reflected in the lake's glasslike surface. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Towadako: Lake so popular a dragon and serpent...
Situated in the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, which straddles Akita and Aomori prefectures, Lake Towadako pulls in visitors from all over to enjoy the season-changing...
Yokagura, a traditional event of Shinto music and dance staged at night, is the glue that binds residents of Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Takachiho: Visit the epicenter of Japanese mythology
In the Kyushu Highlands, dubbed "the roof of Kyushu," the town of Takachiho in Miyazaki Prefecture is a land of myths.
The Nagaragawa river in Gifu Prefecture is famed for a centuries-old style of fishing in which a fisherman maneuvers fish-gulping cormorants, a show that even impressed Charlie Chaplin. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Nagaragawa: A flood of activities to entertain...
People say time changes everything. But this does not seem to apply to the Nagaragawa river, flowing 166 kilometers through Gifu Prefecture in central Japan.
A newlywed couple has their photo taken on a bridge over the Shimantogawa river in the city of Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture. The second longest river in Shikoku region is known for its many bridges without railings. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Shimantogawa: Even the bridges give way to the...
The Shimantogawa river begins life in Mount Irazuyama in Higashi-Tsuno, Kochi Prefecture, and for 196 kilometers slowly wends its way downstream. Joined by numerous smaller...
Kurashiki in Okayama Prefecture is known for Edo Period white-walled warehouses. (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
JAPAN HERITAGE Kurashiki: Rice on the river--a brash, busy port
Those were the days--the years--when Kurashiki was an exhilarating, jangling river port. Jump in our time machine and set the levers for the Edo Period (1603-1867).
Kurobe Dam in Toyama Prefecture was completed in 1963 after a seven years of construction work. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Mount Tateyama: Not really hell's gate; this is...
Tateyama mountain range in Toyama Prefecture has long held a special place in the hearts of Japanese. It is one of the country's three sacred mountains, along with Mount Fuji...
The mountains of Shirakami is an ideal place for forest bathing. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Shirakami mountains: Walk softly in a forest dark...
The mountains of Shirakami at the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures are fertile ground for one of the nation's great natural resources--vast forests of very elderly...
Kushiro shitsugen is the largest marshland in Japan and is the first recognized by the Ramsar Convention. (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
JAPAN HERITAGE Shiretoko: Under fire at work? Then head north
The cities where most of us live are nature-free zones, concrete habitats suitable only for people and pigeons, crows, feral cats and rats.
Though Mount Aso is an active volcano, its surroundings create idyllic atmosphere. (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
JAPAN HERITAGE Mount Aso: A visit to the 'fire-spitting mountain'
Massive volcanic explosions that started 270,000 years ago created Mount Aso, whose top later sank to leave a massive caldera basin that has attracted visitors since the dawn...
The trails in Sengokuhara highlands in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, are a major draw. (ASAHI SHIMBUN FILE PHOTO)
JAPAN HERITAGE Hakone: One of the first and best tourist spots
For centuries, Hakone served as way station for travelers between the eastern and western parts of the country. It was also the site of a roadblock manned by shogunate troops....
The donjon of Inuyama Castle in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, is a national treasure. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Inuyama: Meiji buildings saved from the wrecking...
Inuyama may not make the history hunter's top 10 list, but if you give it a chance we're sure you'll like it. The city sits by the Kisogawa river and is within easy reach of...
Children observe plants and insects in Oze National Park, a vast expanse of marshland. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Oze: A rare victory for conservationists
Skunk cabbage sounds revolting in English, but much nicer in Japanese--mizubasho--where it fairly rolls off the tongue.
The main halls of Niutsuhimejinja shrine, which is one of the most famous religious establishments in Mount Koyasan, part of a World Heritage site, on the Kii Peninsula (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Kii mountains: Train to perform heroic deeds, join...
Since the dawn of human history, the mountains of the Kii Peninsula have been worshipped as gods. South of the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, the peninsula's forests are...
Star-shaped Goryokaku Park in Hakodate, Hokkaido, was built in the late 19th century as a fort to watch over foreign ships entering the port. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Hakodate: Northern gateway to Japan retains...
Along with Shimoda in Shizuoka Prefecture, Hakodate, a fishing port in southwestern Hokkaido, was opened to foreign trade in 1854 following the conclusion of a treaty with the...
People dressed as samurai parade during a festival related to the Fujiwara clan, who ruled the Hiraizumi region in Iwate Prefecture centuries ago. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Hiraizumi: After a journey back in time, eat...
Hiraizumi, now a sleepy Iwate Prefecture town surrounded by mountains and foothills, was the cultural center of northern Japan in the 12th century--a golden period that started ...
National treasure: The five-story, 57-meter tall pagoda at Toji temple is the highest pagoda in the country. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Toji: Central Kyoto's shop-till-you-drop temple
Among the myriad ancient temples that form a great part of the attraction of Kyoto is Toji, located in the center of the city. If you have a guidebook, it's sure to point out...
Mangrove forests are an exotic feature of the subtropical Iriomotejima island in Okinawa Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Iriomotejima: Where wildcats roam and the sky's...
Iriomotejima is one of the 19 Yaeyama islands of Okinawa. Like all the islands in the chain, it is surrounded by coral reefs.
People stroll along the shop-filled approach to Zenkoji temple in Nagano. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Zenkoji: Here we find a passage to Paradise
Nagano came into the spotlight as the main venue for the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The Oura Catholic Church in Nagasaki, a national treasure, is a major tourist draw. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
JAPAN HERITAGE Nagasaki: Famous churches still a haven for the...
As the first port to be opened to foreigners and the trade they brought with them in the 16th century, Nagasaki was Japan's original window to the world.

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