Japan had its first World Heritage sites registered in 1993 when UNESCO registered Buddhist monuments in the Horyuji Temple area, Himeji Castle, Yakushima Island and the Shirakami-Sanchi beech tree forest.

Since then the country has added more sites and now boasts the 20 shown above.

Natural World Heritage sites show magnificent views of four seasons while cultural World Heritage sites remind people of the deep, unique history of Japan.

The Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima Peace Memorial) is a reminder of a negative legacy that should never be forgotten.

Mount Fuji is a world-renowned mountain praised by ancient poets for its beauty and visited by many tourists.

Horyuji Temple is widely recognized as one of the oldest wooden structures in the world and sits at the heart of Nara, which is known for its collection of temples and other historic sites.

The Ogasawara Islands are home to many unique species and are a mecca of whale watching.

The shrines and temples of Nikko, together with their natural surroundings, have for centuries been a sacred site known for architectural and decorative masterpieces. They are closely associated with the history of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Japan also hopes to add more locations to the list of World Heritage sites. It has 10 sites on the tentative list, including the temples, shrines and other structures of ancient Kamakura (see article on right). Others include Hikone Castle and churches and Christian sites in Nagasaki.

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