What's at Stake in Designating Japan's Sacred Mountains as UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

McGUIRE, Mark Patrick
January 2013
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies;2013, Vol. 40 Issue 2, p323
Academic Journal
In this article I assess the social and environmental impact of UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization) World Heritage designation on a sacred mountain, Mount Omine in Japan's Kii Peninsula (Mie, Wakayama, and Nara prefectures), paying special attention to a community of male ascetics who direct their principal energies toward performing austerities in the surrounding natural environment. Though situated in an isolated location, this place and these practices became the subject of great regional, national, and global interest after World Heritage designation by UNESCO in June 2004. The ascetic training grounds and lush forests make the Kii Peninsula an ideal candidate for UNESCO's "cultural landscape" category of World Heritage. Since 1992 UNESCO has recognized sites that combine its two prior categories of "natural" and "cultural" properties as cultural landscapes.


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