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Reason why it is a
world heritage


What is cultural property in Japan

Cultural property is a valuable national asset that was born in the long history of Japan, has been nurtured, protected until today. For this reason, the nation designates, selects, and registers important items based on Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties as national treasure, important cultural property, historic site, scenic spot, natural monument etc, imposes certain restrictions on current status change and export. On the other hand, we are trying to preserve cultural assets by assisting preservation repair, installation of disaster prevention facilities, and publicization of historic sites etc. In addition, measures are taken to utilize cultural properties, such as assisting the maintenance of public facilities of cultural properties and expanding opportunities to appreciate cultural properties through exhibitions. Furthermore, we recommend to UNESCO what has a remarkable universal value out of the representative cultural heritage of Japan, and is promoting the registration to the World Cultural Heritage.

What is a World Heritage Site?

A world heritage is an irreplaceable treasure that was created by the creation of the earth and the history of human beings and has been handed over from the past to the present. People all over the world living in present are handed over from the past and are common legacies of mankind who have to convey to the future.

The World Heritage is defined in the World Heritage Convention adopted at the 17th UNESCO General Assembly in 1972 (formally, "Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural Heritage and Natural Heritage" :). As of December 2015, there are 1031 World Heritage sites (802 cultural heritages, 197 natural heritage sites, 32 complex leaves), and 191 States Parties.

Value as a World Heritage Site

At the Itsukushima Shrine, the foundation of the splendid shrine group presently seen by the construction of Kiyomori, the authority of the time in the 12th century, was formed. The composition of this shrine group has an excellent architectural landscape incorporating the style of laying of the Heian era. Moreover, the scenery which is located on the sea and integrated with the mountain of the background is unparalleled, it is due to the excellent idea of Kiyomori, and it is one of the typical assets of the Heian period which shows his achievement . For this reason, it falls under the value criterion (i).

The shrine of Itsukushima Shrine is one of the general forms of the development of the architectural structure of the shrine in Japan which worshiped nature, enshrined mountains and others as a theological body and established a worship place at the foot of it. The landscape of the building, which is combined with the surrounding environment, that the mountain behind it and the front facing the sea is a work that became one of the criteria of the Japanese aesthetic sense after that. It is the only one among the existing shrines existing in Japan. It is an important asset in understanding Japanese spiritual culture. Therefore, it falls under the value criterion (ii).

Among these buildings, Honsha Heisha, Haiden, Haraedono and Sessha Maroudo Shrine built in the 13th century often left their style at the time of construction, It is one of the few buildings built in the Kamakura period during construction. Despite the repeated rebuilding, it is a rare example of telling the present side of the original building of the Heian era to the present. In addition, the group of shrines deployed on the sea has an environment integrated with the surrounding nature. It is unique in that the style of Shiden Zukuri in the Heian period was realized using the boundary between the mountain and the sea.

Thus, the shrine of Itsukushima Shrine succeeded to the present style from the Heian period to the Kamakura period and is an important example for knowing the old form of the shrine group integrating with the surrounding landscape developed from natural worship . In this respect it falls under the value criterion (iv).

It is a facility of Shinto which is a religion rooted in the Japanese culture and is an important basis for understanding the characteristics of Japanese religious space as a cultural asset showing the history of mixing and separation with Buddhism . For this reason, it corresponds to the value standard (vi).

Evaluation of preservation status compared with other allogeneic heritage

Wooden buildings with distinctive colors are not only analogous to Japan but also worldwide, and it is impossible to compare preservation status. However, in order to permanently preserve the value of individual assets, national and local public entities are providing extensive protection based on the " Act on Protection of Cultural Properties". Therefore, it is in a very good preservation situation as a wooden building group.

The Criteria for Selection

If it meets one or more of the registration criteria i to vi stipulated below, it shall be regarded as a cultural heritage, if it meets one or more of vii - x, it is a natural heritage, if it meets one or more of each criteria, it is a mixed heritage .

  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
  2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Source / Government of Japan, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Environment Agency 1995 World Heritage List Recommendation Sheet, Japan Federation of UNESCO Associations, World Heritage Movement, World Heritage Site 2016 · Cooperation / Itsukushima Shrine