Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kyodo news: Hiraizumi gets listed as Heritage site — Iwate temple complex, grounds win UNESCO nod


 The ancient Buddhist temples and landscape of Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, have won approval as a World Heritage cultural site at the ongoing UNESCO meeting in Paris, government officials said Sunday.


                                                                                                           Photo: Kyodo
 Recognition: A "kusudama" ball is opened by (from right) Shunwa Yamada, senior monk at Chusonji Temple; Myokyu Fujisato of Motsuji Temple; and officials in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, to celebrate the town's approval as a World Heritage cultural site Sunday.


 The decision by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee gives Japan its 12th cultural site, and follows the endorsement of the Ogasawara island chain south of Tokyo as the country's fourth natural heritage site.
 The registration of Hiraizumi, the first spot in Tohoku to make the World Heritage List, is expected to boost tourism to the region, which is still reeling from the devastation left by the megaquake and tsunami of March 11.
 Following the site's endorsement at the UNESCO meeting in Paris, Hiraizumi Mayor Masayoshi Sugawara told reporters he was extremely pleased.
 "It's encouraging news for the disaster-hit areas. I hope to report it to the people of Hiraizumi as soon as possible," he said.
 The approval of his town's Buddhist temples as a World Heritage cultural site "will contribute to reconstruction from the March disaster," he said.
 Iwate Prefecture was ravaged by the twin disasters.
 Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso said: "I feel the whole world expressed sympathy and encouragement to the disaster-hit areas."
 In his speech to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee after ward, Tasso said Hiraizumi was created in the 12th century to recover from the terrible devastation caused by war and to achieve everlasting peace, alluding to Japan's mission of rebirth from the disaster.
 "I'm going to promote reconstruction work with the lessons of Hiraizumi in mind," Tasso said.
 In Hiraizumi, meanwhile, some 200 residents gathered at City Hall on Sunday to celebrate.
 "I hope many people will visit Hiraizumi," said Nanako Chiba, 11.
 Shunwa Yamada, who presides over Chusonji Temple, told reporters, "I feel pleasure as well as a sense of responsibility, as the value (of this town) has been affirmed."
 Among the many tourists visiting Chusonji the same day was Hitoshi Anzai, a 58-year-old office worker from Sendai. "I am visiting Hiraizumi for the first time in more than 10 years as it has been designated as a World Heritage site. It is a good place to come."
 Hiraizumi, which includes Chusonji, a Buddhist temple known for its Golden Hall, features a cluster of temples and the ruins of the Oshu Fujiwara warrior family that ruled the Tohoku region from the 11th to 12th centuries.
 The decision at the 11-day meeting that began Sunday in the French capital follows a recommendation in May by UNESCO's advisory body ICOMOS, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which said Hiraizumi carries universal world heritage value of particular prominence.
 Japan's already registered 11 cultural heritage sites include Buddhist monuments around Horyuji Temple in Nara Prefecture, historic monuments of ancient Kyoto and the atomic-bomb dome in Hiroshima.
 In 2007, the ruins of the Iwami silver mine in Shimane Prefecture, that was worked between the 16th to 19th centuries, were registered.
 Hiraizumi was the political and cultural center of northern Honshu for nearly 100 years in the 11th and 12th centuries, when the area was ruled by the Oshu Fujiwara clan independent of rulers in Kyoto, the capital at the time.
 In 2006, the government proposed that Hiraizumi with nine component properties be inscribed on the World Heritage List. But the attempt failed in 2008 after ICOMOS asked Japan to review the proposal.
 Last year, the government reduced the number of properties for registration to six.

©japantimes.co.jp




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