Japan Heritage

1. What is Japan Heritage?

(1) Recognition of Stories on Japanese Cultures and Traditions

Cultures and traditions of Japan are passed down through stories based on unique regional histories and traditions. The Agency for Cultural Affairs recognizes these stories as?Japan Heritage.
The Agency aims to revitalize local communities through comprehensive maintenance and utilization of these attractive tangible and intangible cultural properties and their strategic promotion in Japan and overseas.

(2) Difference from World Heritage Sites and Designated Cultural Properties

Both the World Heritage list and Cultural Properties designation are intended for adding value to cultural properties (cultural heritage) and guaranteeing their protection. On the other hand, Japan Heritage is not meant to create new regulations to add value to or preserve existing cultural properties. Its aim is to revitalize local communities by linking each story, region, and Cultural Property and utilizing and promoting them as collective spaces.

(3) Effects Brought by Japan Heritage Designation

The stories authorized as Japan Heritage will increase recognition of the areas involved in the stories. Japan Heritage will generate various efforts to promote themselves, which will remind local residents of their identity and help give the community an identity. All these elements will stimulate the revitalization of local communities significantly.

(4) Japan Heritage Designated in 2015

The following18 stories were designated as Japan Heritage in 2015. Click on the title of the story to view details (Japanese only).

No. Prefectures Applicant?
(* indicates the representing municipality)
Title of the story
1 Ibaraki Prefecture, Tochigi Prefecture,
Okayama Prefecture, Oita Prefecture
* Mito, (Ibaraki Prefecture), Ashikaga (Tochigi Prefecture), Bizen (Okayama Prefecture), Hita (Oita Prefecture) Educational Heritage from Early-Modern Japan (1568-1868)
: The Origins of Academics and Decorum
2 Gunma Prefecture * Gunma Prefecture
(Kiryu City, Kanra, Nakanojou Towns, Katashina Village)
Kakaa Denka: The Silk Story of Gunma (15.7MB)
3 Toyama Prefecture Takaoka City Flourishing Folk Culture Under the Rule of the Maeda Family of Kaga (3.0MB)
4 Ishikawa Prefecture * Ishikawa Prefecture
(Nanao, Wajima, Suzu Cities; Shiga, Anamizu, Noto Towns)
The Noto Peninsula: Where the Light Dances (2.5MB)
5 Fukui Prefecture * Fukui Prefecture
(Obama City, Wakasa Town)
Wakasa Province: A Cultural Heritage Linking the Sea to the Ancient Capital (27.6MB)
6 Gifu Prefecture Gifu City An Ancient Castle Town with the Spirit of Nobunaga’s Hospitality (1.8MB)
7 Mie Prefecture Meiwa Town Saiku: The Palace of the Imperial Princess and the Spirit Of Ise (10.1MB)
8 Shiga Prefecture * Shiga Prefecture
(Otsu, Hikone, Omihachiman, Takashima, Higashiomi, Maibara Cities)
Lake Biwa and Its Surroundings: A Water Heritage Site of Life and Prayer (3.5MB)
9 Kyoto Prefecture * Kyoto Prefecture
(Uji, Joyo, Yawata, Kyotanabe, Kizugawa Cities, Ujitawara and Wazuka Towns, Minamiyamashiro Village)
A Historical Walk through 800 Years of Japanese Tea (3.3MB)
10 Hyogo Prefecture Sasayama City Dekansho-Bushi: Hometown Memories Passed Down in Folk Songs (3.8MB)
11 Nara Prefecture * Asuka Village, Kashihara City, Takatori Town The Dawn of Japan: Women in the Asuka Period (3.8MB)
12 Tottori Prefecture Misasa City A Site for Purifying the Six Roots of Perception and Healing the Six Senses~Japan’s Most Dangerous National Treasure and a World-Famous Radon Hot Spring~ (2.3MB)
13 Shimane Prefecture Tsuwano Townn Tsuwano Then and Now: Exploring the Town of Tsuwano Through the One Hundred Landscapes of Tsuwano (5.4MB)
14 Hiroshima Prefecture Onomichi City A Miniature Garden City from the Middle Ages Built Around the Onomichi Channel (3.0MB)
15 Ehime, Kochi,
Tokushima, and Kagawa Prefectures
* Ehime, Kochi, Tokushima, and Kagawa Prefectures (57 municipalities) Henro: The Pilgrimage Route and 88 Temples of Shikoku (9.9MB)
16 Fukuoka Prefecture Dazaifu City The Ancient Capital of Western Japan: A Political Center of Cultural Exchange with East Asia (6.3MB)
17 Nagasaki Prefecture * Nagasaki Prefecture
(Tsushima, Iki, Goto Cities Shinkamigoto Town)
The Frontier Islands of Iki and Tsushima, Goto The Ancient Bridge to the Continent (4.1MB)
18 Kumamoto Prefecture * Hitoyoshi City, Nishiki, Asagiri, Taragi, Yunomae Towns, Mizukami, Sagara, Itsuki, Yamae, Kuma Villages The Culture of Sagara Family: 700 Years of a Conservative Yet Innovative Spirit in one of Japan's Richest Remote Regions (7.8MB)

2. Criteria for the Designation of Japan Heritage

(1) Criteria

Japan Heritage designation is based on three criteria:

Story must be based on historically unique traditions or local customs that have been passed down for generations.
Story must have clear themes represented at the core of the narrative that support the area’s appeal. This can include cultural properties that are passed down and preserved in the area, such as structures, archaeological sites, places of scenic beauty, and local festivals.
Story must include a narrative, rather than simply a summary of regional history or a description of local cultural properties.
Japan Heritage status is divided into two categories:
  • - Local Category: A narrative pertaining to one municipality
  • - Collective (Network) Category: A narrative pertaining to several municipalities
  • Each application must include at least one nationally-designated Tangible or Intangible Cultural Property. Locally recognized or unrecognized cultural properties that are part of the narrative may also be included.

(2) Application for the Japan Heritage Designation

 The Agency for Cultural Affairs annually calls for applications at the prefectural Boards of Education.

The applicant may be a municipal government. Application documents must be submitted to the Agency via the prefectural Board of Education.
Applications under the Collective Category may be submitted jointly in the name of all relevant municipalities. If the municipal governments are in the same prefecture, the prefecture may apply on their behalf.
Application requirements
Submissions for the Local Category must meet at least one of the following conditions:
? A municipal government that has developed the Basic Scheme for Historic and Cultural Properties or Plans for the Maintenance and Improvement of Historic Landscapes.
? A municipal government with submissions that have been included on the World Heritage List Nominations or its Tentative List.

(3) Screening by the Japan Heritage Review Board

Submitted stories are reviewed by the Japan Heritage Review Board based on the following criteria before decisions are made.

  • - Review criteria
Narrative describes the distinct historical features of the area as well as supporting the appeal of Japan as a whole.
A concrete strategy with a future vision of how an area can develop while taking advantage of its cultural properties.
Efforts have been coordinated to revitalize the local areas through Japan Heritage, such as effective, strategic domestic and international promotion of the stories.

3. The Japan Heritage Logo

The Japan Heritage logo was designed to show the appeal of the culture and tradition of Japan and can be displayed on pamphlets on the narratives of Japan Heritage designated by the Agency.
For more information on the logo, click?here (in Japanese).

4. Supporting Local Revitalization through Japan Heritage Designation

The Agency launched the "Japan Heritage Promotion Project" to help show the appeal of Japan Heritage stories and local revitalization through the Japan Heritage designation. The Agency provides active support through (1) promotion and training, (2) publicity and education, (3) research and study, and (4) monetary support for Japan Heritage development and public use through a fund administered by the Japan Arts Council.

5. The Japan Heritage Forum

On June 29, 2015, the Japan Heritage Forum was held at the Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum. Following the certificate awarding from Mr. Shimomura, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr. Shimomura and Mr. Akaike, the Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, a panel discussion was held with the attendance of Mr. Aoyagi, Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and a member of the Japan Heritage Review Board.
Exhibition booths were set up at the Heiseikan lounge to promote 18 designated narratives and related areas attracting over 460 visitors. You can see the forum on the mextchannel on YouTube.

Mr. Shimomura gives a speech at the certificate awarding ceremony. Group photo of Mr. Shimomura, Mr. Akaike, and Mr. Aoyagi
Mr. Shimomura gives a speech at the certificate awarding ceremony. Group photo of Mr. Shimomura, Mr. Akaike, and Mr. Aoyagi
Panel discussion attended by Mr. Aoyagi Mr. Shimomura and Mr. Akaike enjoying the foot bath?at an outdoor booth by Misasa Town
Panel discussion attended by Mr. Aoyagi Mr. Shimomura and Mr. Akaike enjoying the foot bath?at an outdoor booth by Misasa Town

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