Mt. Fuji and Kamakura Vying for World Heritage Status

Looking down hikers from the summit of Mt. Fuji
Symbol of Kamakura, Big Buddha statute at Kotoku-in Temple

Last year, Japan’s Mt. Fuji and the old military capital of Kamakura were proposed as possible candidates for UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites.

In the proposal letter, Mt. Fuji was described as encompassing 25 assets, including the Fujinomiya Asama shinto shrine, the Oshino Hakkai springs and others, emphasizing its value as an object of Japanese religious worship as well as a subject for various types of art, including woodblock prints. Kamakura offers 10 major resources, including the Great Buddha statue, the Enkaku-ji temple and others. With the town merged into the surrounding hills, it served as Japan’s military capital during the Kamakura era (1185-1333), and emphasizes its status as a place where the samurai (warrior) culture flourished.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) within UNESCO, undertook a survey of the two locations last summer, and around this coming May is expected to issue its recommendations to UNESCO’s committee on world heritage sites. Both Kamakura and Mt. Fuji are accessible by Tokyo in from one to two hours by bus or train. They have long attracted many visitors. Some residents of Kamakura have even been heard to object to world heritage status, saying, “We’ve already got more visitors than we can handle.” And regarding Mt. Fuji, one American was heard to remark, “It is already so famous worldwide. I can’t see any need for it to be registered as a world heritage site.”

List of World Heritage sites in Japan (current)

Buddhist Monuments in the Hōryū-ji Area
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Ryukyu Kingdom
Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Atomic Dome)
Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape
Ogasawara Islands
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range
Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
Shrines and Temples of Nikkō



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