UNESCO recognizes iconic peak's cultural influence

Mount Fuji named World Heritage site

Kyodo

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO decided Saturday to inscribe Mount Fuji on the U.N. agency’s prestigious World Heritage list.

The 3,776-meter volcano straddling Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures was approved by the 21-member panel of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization during its 37th session in Cambodia’s capital.

Japan’s highest and most celebrated peak was designated a “cultural” rather than “natural” site and registered under the title “Mt. Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art.”

It is Japan’s 17th site to make the list and the first since the historic Hiraizumi area in Iwate Prefecture and the Ogasawara Islands in the Pacific won approval in 2011.

Japan asked UNESCO to register Mount Fuji in January 2012 because it has been viewed as a religious site, depicted in ukiyo-e paintings and helped nurture Japan’s unique culture.

Fuji spans roughly 70,000 hectares, including Sengen Shrine at its foot, five major lakes, the Shiraito Falls and the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove.

In a speech at the session following the inscription, Isao Kiso, a delegate to UNESCO, expressed appreciation for the registration on behalf of the Japanese government, saying he was delighted that the “outstanding universal value of this sacred and beautiful cultural property has been recognized and acknowledged by the World Heritage Committee.”

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu, who also attended, said the inscription “is not the end but only the beginning.”

He said the people of Japan “shall proudly safeguard and pass the legacy of Fuji-san on to future generations.”

Yamanashi Gov. Shomei Yokouchi said it is “a great pleasure” for the people of Japan to hear of Mount Fuji’s inscription.

Chuch Phoeun, secretary of state of the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said Mount Fuji “has outstanding universal value and deserves to be listed as such.”

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, the UNESCO panel dubbed ICOMOS, recommended in April that Mount Fuji be listed but without the pine grove, which is a distant 45 km away.

On Saturday, however, the panel had a change of heart.

Residents and officials had earlier attempted to register Mount Fuji as a natural World Heritage site but were thwarted by the illegal dumping of garbage and the fact that the peak lacks global uniqueness as a volcanic mountain.

It was dropped from consideration in 2003.

In 2012, Japan formally asked UNESCO to add Mount Fuji to the list of cultural World Heritage sites in consideration of its religious significance and repeated depictions in works of art.

ICOMOS then recommended Mount Fuji for registration in April, noting that it is a national symbol of Japan, blends religious and artistic traditions, and has an influence that “clearly goes beyond Japan.”

  • yadin

    An honor well deserved. Congratulations to the country of Japan

  • Al_Martinez

    Too bad they couldn’t get the designation under the “natural” status. I fear now that Japan has obtained the WHS under the “cultural” status, attempts to clean the mountain up will now cease. And the garbage and garish development will probably increase with this new notoriety. Come to think about it, this is probably a bad thing for Fuji.

  • nobuo takamura

    I have been living here at the foot of Mt. Fuji for more than 30 years, which has a very large foot sphere to its east, west, north and south. All the residents around it, those in Kanagawa prefecture, those in Shizuoka, those in Yamanashi and those in Tokyo among others, are sure to be pleased with this news. They respect Mt. Fuji and worship it as the foundation of their spirit beyond Japanese nationality though they can’t look over the Orient and Occident from its top.

  • Akina Yokoyama

    At last!! I’ m delighted to hear that!!

  • gaurabmega

    Congrautulations to Japanese people.

  • Charlie Sommers

    I lived a scant 35 miles from Fuji-san for the entire decade of the 1960′s. I have seen many mountains in the world but never another as beautiful as Fuji. A well deserved honor.

  • Bsneider

    are you serious? Mount Fuji is just a mountain, there are many beautiful mountains all throughout the world, we cant just register them all World Heritage Sites! This is just an attempt to boost Japan’s failing tourism industry, and won’t work as noone outside of Japan really cares what Japan’s highest point is.

  • Osaka48

    It’s about time. Fuji-san has long deserved this honor. Now it is up to the Japanese people to treat this great symbol with more respect: Please do not over-commercialize this great symbol by “disturbing” its slopes with anything other than the minimum required “commercial” buildings.

    And hikers: Pick up your trash! Hike it out! There should be severe penalties for pollution and cluttering the slopes with trash!