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Japan, Akihito, Emperors and Shoguns

 Posted by Christophe Le Corre
Christophe Le Corre
, August 10, 2014 at 17:00:31 :: Japan

Tokyo - Imperial PalaceAkihito (born 23 December 1933) is the current Emperor of Japan, the 125th emperor of his line according to Japan's traditional order of succession. He acceded to the throne in 1989, after the death of his father, Emperor Hirohito, on 7 January 1989.

In Japan, the emperor is never referred to by his given name, but rather is referred to as "His Imperial Majesty the Emperor" which may be shortened to "His Imperial Majesty".

The Emperor of Japan is, according to the 1947 Constitution of Japan adopted by the Postwar Japanese government, "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people," which simultaneously dissolved the Empire of Japan. He is a ceremonial figurehead under a form of constitutional monarchy and is head of the Japanese Imperial Family with functions as head of state. He is also the highest authority of the Shinto religion. In his dual role as head of a religion and head of state the Emperor resembles the British monarch, who is "supreme governor" of the Church of England.

Unlike most constitutional monarchies, the Emperor is not even the nominal chief executive explicitly in the Constitution of Japan, but has duties "in matters of state", which are closely regulated. The constitution states that the Emperor "shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in the Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government" (article 4) and that the "advice and approval of the Cabinet shall be required for all acts of the Emperor in matters of state" (article 3). Article 4 also states that these duties can be delegated by the Emperor as provided for by law. Article 65 explicitly vests the executive power in the Cabinet, of which the Prime Minister is the leader.

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Tokyo, the world's largest megacity

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, June 29, 2007 at 19:17:48 :: Japan

Tokyo is a unique subnational administrative region of Japan with characteristics of both a prefecture and a city. It is the de facto capital of Japan, the most populous subnational entity and city in the country, and the center of the most populous metropolitan area in the world with a population of over 35 million people in the Greater Tokyo Area.

Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan


Tokyo is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family. The twenty-three special wards of Tokyo, although each administratively a city in its own right, comprise the area informally considered as the "city of Tokyo" and are collectively one of the largest cities in the world with a total population of over 8 million people. Tokyo has the largest metropolitan gross domestic product in the world for a city, and it held the title of the world's most expensive city for over a decade from 1992 through 2005.

View of Tokyo, Japan


Tokyo is considered one of the world's major global cities and a megacity. The word "Tokyo" may refer to Tokyo Metropolis as a whole, or only to the main urban mass under its jurisdiction (thus excluding west Tama and Izu / Ogasawara Islands), or even the whole of Greater Tokyo Area, which includes Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, and Yamanashi prefectures, depending on context. (Source Wikipedia)

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In The News

Christmas goes global - Tokyo, Japan

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, December 19, 2010 at 04:37:57

The Rainbow Bridge crossing Tokyo Bay in Tokyo, JapanNowadays, Christmas, wherever you go, is highly commercialized. In a non-Christian and keenly consumerist country like Japan it's an almighty excuse for a grand show with a strong tug on the citizens' purse strings. Add the human need to compensate for the grimness of winter and you have December in Tokyo, a phantasmagoria of Christmas lights in every major shopping and business district. The Japanese are mad for illuminations, with the Marunouchi and Roppongi Hills areas having especially brilliant displays, whilst even more dazzling effort goes into the light shows at Shinjuku Southern Terrace, Tokyo Midtown with its Starlight Garden, and Caretta Shiodome with its vast ocean of blue lights.

Just about every restaurant in town offers a Christmas menu, with just about any cuisine, but the favorite Japanese Christmas Day meal is roast chicken followed by strawberry shortcake. For Christians, churches offer Christmas Eve Candlelight Worship and special masses, and for children, Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland is a magical time with a snowy White Holiday Parade and the Cinderella Castle all decked out.

UNESCO World Heritage

Japan, Ogasawara Islands

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 20, 2013 at 05:40:38

Location Japan
Coordinates N27 43 6 E142 5 59
Property 7,939 ha
Date of Inscription 2011

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1362 )

The property numbers more than 30 islands clustered in three groups and covers surface area of 7,939 hectares. The islands offer a variety of landscapes and are home to a wealth of fauna, including the Bonin Flying Fox, a critically endangered bat, and 195 endangered bird species. Four-hundred and forty-one native plant taxa have been documented on the islands whose waters support numerous species of fish, cetaceans and corals. Ogasawara Islands' ecosystems reflect a range of evolutionary processes illustrated through its assemblage of plant species from both southeast and northwest Asia, alongside many endemic species.

Photos from Landolia

Coast-Hatsuneura, Ogasawara Islands Minamijima, Ogasawara Islands

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 20, 2013 at 05:16:49

Location Hiraizumi, Japan
Coordinates N39 0 4 E141 6 28
Property 176 ha
Date of Inscription 2011

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1277 )

Hiraizumi - Temples, Gardens and Archaeological Sites Representing the Buddhist Pure Land comprises five sites, including the sacred Mount Kinkeisan. It features vestiges of government offices dating from the 11th and 12th centuries when Hiraizumi was the administrative centre of the northern realm of Japan and rivalled Kyoto. The realm was based on the cosmology of Pure Land Buddhism, which spread to Japan in the 8th century. It represented the pure land of Buddha that people aspire to after death, as well as peace of mind in this life. In combination with indigenous Japanese nature worship and Shintoism, Pure Land Buddhism developed a concept of planning and garden design that was unique to Japan.

Photos from Landolia

Hondo, Chuson-ji Pond, Kanjizaio-in Enryu-ji, Motsu-ji

Component sites


Japan, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 20, 2013 at 05:00:38

Location Shimane Prefecture, Ohda City District, Japan
Coordinates N35 6 46 E132 26 6
Property 529 ha
Date of Inscription 2007

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1246 )

The Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine in the south-west of Honshu Island is a cluster of mountains, rising to 600 m and interspersed by deep river valleys featuring the archaeological remains of large-scale mines, smelting and refining sites and mining settlements worked between the 16th and 20th centuries. The site also features routes used to transport silver ore to the coast, and port towns from where it was shipped to Korea and China. The mines contributed substantially to the overall economic development of Japan and south-east Asia in the 16th and 17th centuries, prompting the mass production of silver and gold in Japan. The mining area is now heavily wooded. Included in the site are fortresses, shrines, parts of Kaidô transport routes to the coast, and three port towns, Tomogaura, Okidomari and Yunotsu, from where the ore was shipped.

Photos from Landolia

Ryugenji Mabu Mine Shaft, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine Refinery ruins, Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Shiretoko

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 20, 2013 at 04:53:43

Location Hokkaido prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N43 56 57.984 E144 57 56.988
Property 71,100 ha
Date of Inscription 2005

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1193 )

Shiretoko Peninsula is located in the north-east of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The site includes the land from the central part of the peninsula to its tip (Shiretoko Cape) and the surrounding marine area. It provides an outstanding example of the interaction of marine and terrestrial ecosystems as well as extraordinary ecosystem productivity, largely influenced by the formation of seasonal sea ice at the lowest latitude in the northern hemisphere. It has particular importance for a number of marine and terrestrial species, some of them endangered and endemic, such as Blackiston’s fish owl and the Viola kitamiana plant. The site is globally important for threatened seabirds and migratory birds, a number of salmonid species, and for marine mammals including Steller’s sea lion and some cetacean species.

Photos from Landolia

Kamuiwakka Falls, Shiretoko National Park Goko Five Lakes, Shiretoko National Park

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 20, 2013 at 04:44:56

Location Mie, Nara and Wakayama Prefectures, Japan
Coordinates N33 50 13 E135 46 35
Property 495 ha
Date of Inscription 2004

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1142 )

Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean, three sacred sites – Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan – linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shinto, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worship in Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced from China and the Korean Peninsula. The sites (495.3 ha) and their surrounding forest landscape reflect a persistent and extraordinarily well-documented tradition of sacred mountains over 1,200 years. The area, with its abundance of streams, rivers and waterfalls, is still part of the living culture of Japan and is much visited for ritual purposes and hiking, with up to 15 million visitors annually. Each of the three sites contains shrines, some of which were founded as early as the 9th century.

Photos from Landolia

Daimonzaka, Kii Peninsula Niukanshofu Shrine, Kii Peninsula Kongobu-ji, Kii Peninsula

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 16:01:01

Location Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N26 12 31 E127 40 58
Property 55 ha
Date of Inscription 2000

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/972 )

Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th-17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred sites provide mute testimony to the rare survival of an ancient form of religion into the modern age. The wide- ranging economic and cultural contacts of the Ryukyu Islands over that period gave rise to a unique culture.

Photos from Landolia

Tamaudun Shuri Castle Katsuren gusuku

List of sites

  • Tamaudun (玉陵 Tamaudun), Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken
  • Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon (園比屋武御嶽石門 Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon, Okinawan: Sunuhwan-utaki), Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken
  • Nakijin Castle Site (今帰仁城跡 Nakijin-jō ato, Okinawan: Nachizin Gusiku), Nakijin-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa-ken
  • Zakimi Castle Site (座喜味城跡 Zakimi-jō ato, Okinawan: Zachimi Gusiku), Yomitan-son, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken
  • Katsuren Castle Site (勝連城跡跡 Katsuren-jō ato, Okinawan: Kacchin Gusiku), Katsuren, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken
  • Nakagusuku Castle Site (中城城跡 Nakagusuku-jō ato, Okinawan: Nakagusiku Gusiku), Nakagusuku-son, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa-ken
  • Shuri Castle Site (首里城跡 Shuri-jō ato, Okinawan: Sui Gusiku), Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken
  • Shikinaen (識名園 Shikinaen), Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken
  • Sefa-utaki (斎場御嶽 Seefa-utaki), Nanjō-shi, Okinawa-ken

Japan, Shrines and Temples of Nikko

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 06:56:23

Location Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N36 44 51 E139 36 38
Property 51 ha
Date of Inscription 1999

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/913 )

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

Photos from Landolia

Daikoku-den, Futarasan jinja Stable, Nikko Tosho-gu Sanbutsudo, Rinno-ji

List of places


Japan, Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 06:40:02

Location Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N34 40 32 E135 50 22
Property 617 ha
Date of Inscription 1998

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/870 )

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture. The city's historic monuments – Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines and the excavated remains of the great Imperial Palace – provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the 8th century, a period of profound political and cultural change.

Photos from Landolia

Daigokuden, Heijo Palace Tokondo, Kofuku-ji Golden Hall, Yakushi-ji

List of places

  • Tōdai-ji (東大寺 Tōdai-ji, Eastern Great Temple), Zōshichō, Suimonchō, etc.
  • Kōfuku-ji (興福寺 Kōfuku-ji), Noboriōjichō, Takabatakechō
  • Kasuga Shrine (春日大社 Kasuga-taisha), Kasuganochō
  • Gangō-ji (元興寺), Chūinchō, Nakanochinyachō, etc.
  • Yakushi-ji (薬師寺), Nishinokyōchō
  • Tōshōdai-ji (唐招提寺), Gojōchō, Amagatsujiminamichō
  • Nara Palace Site - Heijō Palace (平城宮 Heijō-kyū), Sakichō, Hokkejichō, etc.
  • Kasugayama Primeval Forest (春日山原始林 Kasugayamagenshirin), Kasuganochō, Zōshichō, etc.

Japan, Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 06:22:34

Location Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N34 17 39.9 E132 19 28.7
Property 431 ha
Date of Inscription 1996

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/776 )

The island of Itsukushima, in the Seto inland sea, has been a holy place of Shintoism since the earliest times. The first shrine buildings here were probably erected in the 6th century. The present shrine dates from the 12th century and the harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill. The shrine plays on the contrasts in colour and form between mountains and sea and illustrates the Japanese concept of scenic beauty, which combines nature and human creativity.

Photos from Landolia

Itsukushima Shrine Torii, Itsukushima Shrine

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 06:15:03

Location Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N34 22 60 E132 26 60
Property 0.40 ha
Date of Inscription 1996

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/775 )

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, it has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Photos from Landolia

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 05:55:45

Location Gifu and Toyama prefectures, Japan
Coordinates N36 23 60 E136 52 60
Property 68 ha
Date of Inscription 1995

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/734 )

Located in a mountainous region that was cut off from the rest of the world for a long period of time, these villages with their Gassho-style houses subsisted on the cultivation of mulberry trees and the rearing of silkworms. The large houses with their steeply pitched thatched roofs are the only examples of their kind in Japan. Despite economic upheavals, the villages of Ogimachi, Ainokura and Suganuma are outstanding examples of a traditional way of life perfectly adapted to the environment and people's social and economic circumstances.

Photos from Landolia

Shirakawa-go, Shirakawa Gokayama

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Japan, Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 05:31:14

Location Kyoto, Ōtsu, Uji, Japan
Coordinates N34 58 50 E135 46 10
Property 1,056 ha
Date of Inscription 1994

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/688 )

Built in A.D. 794 on the model of the capitals of ancient China, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan from its foundation until the middle of the 19th century. As the centre of Japanese culture for more than 1,000 years, Kyoto illustrates the development of Japanese wooden architecture, particularly religious architecture, and the art of Japanese gardens, which has influenced landscape gardening the world over.

Photos from Landolia

Rokuon-ji, Kinkaku-ji Jodo-shiki garden, Byodo-in Great Lecture Hall, Enryaku-ji

List of locations

  • Kamowakeikazuchi Shrine (賀茂別雷神社 Kamo Wake-ikazuchi Jinja) - aka Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社 Kamigamo Jinja), Kita-ku, Kyoto
  • Kamomioya Shrine (賀茂御祖神社 Kamo Mioya Jinja) aka Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社 Shimogamo Jinja), Sakyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Kyōōgokoku-ji (教王護国寺) aka Tō-ji (東寺), Minami-ku, Kyoto
  • Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
  • Enryaku-ji (延暦寺), Ōtsu, Shiga
  • Daigo-ji (醍醐寺), Fushimi-ku, Kyoto
  • Ninna-ji (仁和寺), Ukyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Byōdō-in (平等院), Uji, Kyoto
  • Ujigami Shrine (宇治上神社 Ujigami Jinja), Uji, Kyoto
  • Kōzan-ji (高山寺), Ukyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Saihō-ji (西芳寺) aka Moss temple (苔寺 Koke-dera), Nishikyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Tenryū-ji (天龍寺), Ukyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Rokuon-ji (鹿苑寺) aka Temple of the Golden Pavilion (金閣寺 Kinkaku-ji), Kita-ku, Kyoto
  • Jishō-ji (慈照寺) aka Temple of the Silver Pavilion (銀閣寺 Ginkaku-ji), Sakyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Ryōan-ji (竜安寺、龍安寺, The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon), Ukyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Nishi Hongan-ji (西本願寺), Shimogyō-ku, Kyoto
  • Nijō Castle (二条城 Nijō-jō), Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto

Japan, Yakushima

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 04:59:58

Location Kamiyaku-cho and Yaku-cho, Kumage-gun Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N30 19 60 E130 31 60
Property 10,747 ha
Date of Inscription 1993

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/662 )

Located in the interior of Yaku Island, at the meeting-point of the palaearctic and oriental biotic regions, Yakushima exhibits a rich flora, with some 1,900 species and subspecies, including ancient specimens of the sugi (Japanese cedar). It also contains a remnant of a warm-temperate ancient forest that is unique in this region.

Photos from Landolia

Dai-o sugi, Yakushima Oko no Taki Falls, Yakushima

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Shirakami-Sanchi

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 04:53:01

Location Ajigasawa-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture; Fukaura-machi, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture; Iwasaki-mura, Nishitsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture; Fujisato-machi, Yamamoto-gun, Akita Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N40 28 12 E140 7 48
Property 16,971 ha
Date of Inscription 1993

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/663 )

Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu, this trackless site includes the last virgin remains of the cool-temperate forest of Siebold's beech trees that once covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The black bear, the serow and 87 species of birds can be found in this forest.

Photos from Landolia

Anmon no taki, Shirakami-Sanchi Shirakami Beech Trees, Shirakami-Sanchi

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map


Japan, Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, April 19, 2013 at 04:44:47

Location Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N34 37 0 E135 43 60
Property 15 ha
Date of Inscription 1993

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/660 )

There are around 48 Buddhist monuments in the Horyu-ji area, in Nara Prefecture. Several date from the late 7th or early 8th century, making them some of the oldest surviving wooden buildings in the world. These masterpieces of wooden architecture are important not only for the history of art, since they illustrate the adaptation of Chinese Buddhist architecture and layout to Japanese culture, but also for the history of religion, since their construction coincided with the introduction of Buddhism to Japan from China by way of the Korean peninsula.

Photos from Landolia

Hokki-ji Chumon, Horyu-ji

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Japan, Himeji-jo

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, May 04, 2009 at 05:31:56

Location Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan
Coordinates N34 49 60 E134 41 60
Type Azuchi-Momoyama castle
Built 1333-1346; major expansions 1601-1608
Built by Akamatsu clan (original); Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1580) Ikeda Terumasa (17th c. expansion)
Property 107 ha
Date of Inscription 1993

Brief Description (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/661 )

Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.

Photos from Landolia

Himeji Castle Himeji Castle

More photos and localization on interactive Google Map



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