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Wednesday, 29th July 2015
In General Japan News,

Japan hopes to add Fukuoka ancient monuments to UNESCO list

The number of sites recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a country is of great importance to tourism. These places of particular interest attract visitors from all over the world, so it is not surprising that Japan is hoping to increase its number.

At present, the nation has 15 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, but is in the process of trying to get accreditation for others. The Council for Cultural Affairs has now highlighted a cluster of five ancient monuments in the Fukuoka Prefecture to focus attention on in an attempt to get them listed by UNESCO.

The process will see the Munakata-Okinoshima monuments presented to UNESCO by February next year, with the aim that they will be listed in 2017. This all depends on the opinions of the World Heritage Committee and whether they believe these sites meet the criteria set out by the organisation.

In order for monuments to be added to the World Heritage List, UNESCO states they must be of outstanding universal value. In addition to this, there are ten criteria outlines by the organisation and if one of these are met, a site can be included among the most prestigious in the world. These are:

·         To represent human creative genius

·         To exhibit an important interchange of human values

·         To bear a unique testimony to cultural tradition

·         To be an outstanding example of a type of architecture

·         To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement

·         To be directly associated with events or living traditions

·         To contain superlative natural phenomena

·         To be outstanding examples of major stages in the earth's history

·         To be outstanding examples of significant on-going ecological or biological processes

·         To contain significant natural habitats for conservation and biological diversity

One of the monuments that is to be included in the presentation to UNESCO is the island of Okinoshima. This popular destination for visitors to Japan can be found between Kyushu and the Korean peninsula and is home to the Okitsu-Miya Shrine. Between the fourth and the ninth centuries, it was used to carry out prayer rituals to encourage positive trading relations with the rest of the continent.

The island has been a rich source of archaeological finds, with more than 80,000 artefacts having been discovered on its territory. Among them is a gold ring that was constructed on the Korean peninsula and cut glass that can be traced back to origins in Persia.

Another of Fukuoka Prefecture's sites included in the collection to be presented to UNESCO is the Munakata Taisha shrine pavilions, which are located on the island of Chikuzen-oshima. This monument has been built to honour Tagitsu-Hime-no-Kami, the daughter of the sun goddess, Amaterasu-O-mikami and is sacred to many. It can be found in the picturesque setting at the base of the Mitake-san Mountain, where small streams run past and the beauty of nature can be enjoyed.

The UNESCO bid is further bolstered by the inclusion of a series of ancient tombs that are situated at the northern tip of Kyushu. This area is particularly interesting, as since the third century, people have arrived there by sea from all over the world. Their cultural exchanges are reflected in the various styles of the tombs and burial mounds, which number than 300.

If the five sites in Fukuoka Prefecture are add to the ranks of UNESCO, they will join other Japanese monuments, such as the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine and Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration, which are already on the list. Anyone planning an itinerary to Japan is likely to look at the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and think about including them in their trip.

Related news stories:
Japanese cuisine poised for UNESCO list (2nd December 2013)
Plans for tourist Wi-Fi unveiled (17th June 2014)
Japan?s annual buzzwords announced (1st December 2015)
Push for Namahage deity visits to be added to UNESCO heritage list (4th January 2016)