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Friday, 24th April 2015
In Japan Travel News,

18 Japan Heritage sites names in tourism boost move

The Cultural Affairs Agency has announced 18 sets of cultural 'Heritage Sites' across Japan to attract more tourists to local communities away from the biggest cities.

The sites are located in over half of the 47 prefectures, and it is hoped that the total number of them will reach 100 by the 2020 Olympics. The first batch of them includes the Shikoku henro pilgrimage trail and educational institutions in Oita, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Okayama. The site in Ibariki, in particular, was opened in 1841 and served as a school for the Mito feudal domain; Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, attended the school in his childhood.

The labels put on these attractions is different from the government applying for World Heritage status, which is more about the assets' universal significance and its commitment to conservation. Instead, these sites in 24 prefectures were selected from 83 proposals and will be given financial help from local officials to develop information boards and guides.

Hakubun Shimomura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said: “We want to send out information on the attraction of Japanese culture in and outside the country, and press for regional revitalization."

This focus on rejuvenating local economies is one of prime minister Abe's major economic policies, especially as the population of Japan continues to age and shrink rapidly. It is hoped that foreign tourists, even if they do go to the likes of Tokyo and Kyoto, will still make side trips to smaller towns and villages, with their potential spending being shifted to areas that need it the most.

It was recently announced that monthly foreign visitors to the country had topped 1.5 million for the first time in March.

Related news stories:
Japanese 'washoku' hopes for world heritage status (14th March 2012)
UNESCO supports heritage listing for Tokyo museum building (18th May 2016)
Japan's World Heritage nominations decided (22nd September 2014)
Mt Fuji World Heritage registration is mixed blessing (26th June 2014)