Jun 23, 2013

UNESCO formally names Mount Fuji as World Heritage site

June 22, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
Mount Fuji is pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi aircraft in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 22. (Mainichi)
Mount Fuji is pictured in this photo taken from a Mainichi aircraft in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 22. (Mainichi)

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) -- The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO on Saturday decided to inscribe Japan's iconic Mount Fuji on the U.N. agency's prestigious World Heritage List, a Japanese official said.
The 3,776-meter mountain west of Tokyo was approved by the 21-member committee under the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization at its 37th session held in the Cambodian capital.
Specifically, Japan's highest and most celebrated mountain was designated as a "cultural" heritage site, as opposed to a "natural" heritage site. The committee decided to register it under the name "Mount Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art."
It is Japan's 17th property to make the list, and the first since the historic Hiraizumi area in Iwate Prefecture and the Ogasawara island chain in the Pacific south of Tokyo won approval in 2011.
The Japanese government officially asked UNESCO in January last year to register Mount Fuji, saying the mountain has been viewed as a religious site and depicted in "ukiyoe" woodblock prints, and nurtured Japan's unique culture.
Mount Fuji covers roughly 70,000 hectares in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, including Sengen Shrine at the foot of the mountain, five major lakes, the Shiraito Falls, as well as the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites, a UNESCO advisory panel known as ICOMOS, recommended in April that Mount Fuji be listed but said the Miho-no-Matsubara pine grove, which Japan had sought to include as part of the asset, must be excluded, citing its 45-kilometer distance from the mountain. However, registration of the pine grove was allowed by the committee on Saturday.
Local residents and officials had earlier attempted to register Mount Fuji as a world natural heritage site. However, due to illegal dumping of garbage and Mt. Fuji's lack of global uniqueness as a volcanic mountain, it was dropped from consideration as a candidate in 2003.
In 2012, the Japanese government 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.
In April of this year, ICOMOS recommended Mount Fuji for registration as a World Heritage site, noting that the mountain is a national symbol of Japan and blends religious and artistic traditions, and that its influence "clearly goes beyond Japan."

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