SUZHOU, China – The area containing the holy grounds and a pilgrimage path in the Kii mountains straddling Mie, Nara and Wakayama prefectures was selected Thursday as a new World Heritage site by a U.N. committee, Japanese officials said.
The decision was made during the 28th session of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee that began Monday in Suzhou, China. The meeting runs through Wednesday and will be screening some 50 World Heritage candidate sites.
It is Japan’s 12th World Heritage site, following the 2000 inclusion of the Gusuku (castle) sites and related properties of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus of the 14th to 16th centuries in Okinawa.
The Kii site comprises holy grounds of three forms of faith — Shinto, Buddhism and Shugendo, or mountain asceticism — and the pilgrimage path that links them in the Kii mountain range.
“I am proud that a part of the cultural heritage of Mie Prefecture is being recognized internationally,” Mie Gov. Akihiko Noro said after hearing of the approval. “We will join hands with Wakayama and Nara prefectures, as well as others concerned, to preserve and make use of the site to revitalize the region.”
Japan’s other World Heritage sites include the A-Bomb Dome at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Yakushima Island, known for its rich flora, in Kagoshima Prefecture. Nine of the existing sites are cultural sites and the other two are natural sites.