Did you know that there are 19 properties have been inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in Japan? (15 cultural sites and 4 natural sites, as of August 2015.) When you visit Japan, consider to visit at least one of the world heritage sites. Most of them are not located near Tokyo, so it will be a chance to visit rural districts in Japan. In this article, I will introduce 4 sites in Tohoku, kanto, Chubu area.
1. Mt. Fuji, Sacred Place And Source Of Artistic Inspiration
Mount Fuji, one of the most famous, beautiful mountain has registered as the world heritage in 2013. The beauty of the mountain made worship the mountain from ancient times in Japan. Mt Fuji is also inspired artists and poets for centuries, especially the work from Ukiyo-e artists such as Hiroshige and Hokusai became so famous around the world. Today still many Japanese people like Mt Fuji, feel happy when they can see the mountain from Tokyo. It is center of the Japanese culture.
If you want to climb the mountain, visit in summer because in winter the mountain will be closed to normal visitors, and only professional climbers are able to enter the mountain. The view from lake Kawaguchiko is awesome, if the weather is nice you can see the mountain reflection in the lake and it is just beautiful and need no other word to explain.
2. Hiraizumi – Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land
Registered to World Heritage List in 2011, it is a grouping of five sites from late eleventh- and twelfth-century Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku area, northern part of Japan. Hiraizumi has been an important political, military, commercial, and cultural center around 1087 to 1189, therefore historically important architecture and were built, and temples and ruins still left today for us to see. The picture above is the temple Chuzon-ji（中尊寺）. There are 4 other sites registered together as Hiraizumi.
3. Shrines and Temples of Nikkō
This is a set of 103 buildings and structure, 9 of them Nine of them are designated National Treasures of Japan as well. Located in prefecture, about 2 hours by train from Tokyo, shrines and temples are often chosen to be a place to field trip by school. The most famous building is Toshogu, which the attached picture represents. Reliefs of animals on the wall and color of the temple is amazing. There are also hot springs and other place to see, so it is a great place to have one day trip from Tokyo, too.
4. Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama
This site has registerd to UNESCO World Heritage in 1995. Shirakawa-go and Gokanyama are located in the Shogawa river valley stretching across the border of Gifu and Toyama Prefectures in Chubu area, central Japan. This village is well known for its traditional architecture style, “gassho-zukuri”（合掌造り）, means “praying hand style”, as the shape of the steep roof reminds the pose of praying hand. This distinguishing shape of the roof is because of the heavy snow in this area, it helps snow to fall down. Some of the old houses are preserved to be as a museum, and became a place to stay for tourists. There are many programs that you can try traditional Japanese rural living styles.
5. Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites
Tomioka Skill mill is the oldest modern model silk reeling factory in Japan. The factory was built right after the Edo period, when Japan was modernizing by learning from Europe. Silk was one of the most important product for Japanese economy at that time. You can get there by Shinkansen + local train from Tokyo, total about 2 hours.
How about taking a day trip from Tokyo to see those sites?