UNESCO Sites and Cultural Treasures in and Near Tokyo

From the ancient temples and shrines of Kyoto to the iconic Mount Fuji, these sites offer a glimpse into Japan’s rich history and culture. 

Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just a curious traveler, you’re sure to find something to pique your interest.

Travel-and-Home suggests our pick of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and near Tokyo that you should see when you are in Tokyo. Each one is a unique representation of Japanese history, culture, and architecture. These sites are well worth a visit!

Go to a flower, herb, or leaf festival with Mount Fuji views.

Also, ride on the Kachi-Kachi Ropeway, and visit the Yamanashi Orchard to pick and eat fruits on this day trip from Tokyo that includes lunch.

  • Flowers: Shibazakura Festival (mid-Apr to late-May)
  • Herbs: Kawaguchiko Herb Festival (late-June to mid-July)
  • Leaves: The Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival (late-October to late-November)
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in and near Tokyo Japan holiday best places to see travel and home things do do in Tokyo min

Horyu-ji Temple

Horyu-ji is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world, and it’s a true marvel of ancient Japanese architecture. Located in Nara, about an hour outside of Tokyo by train, the temple complex dates back to the 7th century and includes a five-story pagoda, a main hall, and a number of smaller buildings. The UNESCO designation includes the temple’s main hall, which houses some of the oldest surviving Buddhist sculptures in Japan. A visit to Horyu-ji is a unique opportunity to see ancient Japanese architecture and art up close and to imagine what life was like in Japan over 1,000 years ago.

Tokyo National Museum

Located in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, the Tokyo National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in Japan. It houses an extensive collection of art and artifacts from Japan and other parts of Asia, with over 110,000 items in its collection. The museum’s exhibitions cover a wide range of topics, including Japanese ceramics, Buddhist art, samurai armor, and ukiyo-e prints. If you’re interested in Japanese history and culture, a visit to the Tokyo National Museum is a great way to immerse yourself in the country’s rich artistic heritage.

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

Okay, technically this one isn’t in Tokyo, but it’s close enough to be a popular day trip destination. Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, so it’s no surprise that it’s home to a wealth of cultural treasures. The UNESCO designation includes 17 different sites, ranging from temples and shrines to palaces and gardens. Some of the highlights include Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), Nijo Castle, and the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine with its thousands of torii gates. If you’re interested in Japan’s ancient history and want to experience the country’s traditional arts and architecture, Kyoto is an absolute must-visit.

Fujisan, a sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

Last but not least, we have Mount Fuji, the iconic volcanic peak that’s become a symbol of Japan itself. Mount Fuji has been revered as a sacred site for centuries, and it’s also been a source of inspiration for artists and writers throughout Japan’s history. The UNESCO designation includes the mountain itself, as well as the surrounding Fujisan cultural sites, which include shrines, lakes, and waterfalls. If you’re an outdoorsy type, climbing Mount Fuji is a challenging but rewarding experience that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. And even if you don’t climb the mountain, simply gazing up at its majestic peak is a powerful experience that will stay with you long after your trip to Japan is over.

 So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

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Mount Fuji Travel News

Concerns about Mount Fuji are raised by a rise in tourists and “bullet climbing.”

Post-COVID-19 climbers are anticipated to increase from past years. Plus, “bullet climbing” is trending (in which trekkers begin their ascent at night in order to reach the summit in time for daybreak and then descend without stopping)  Risky!!

Best multi-Day tours in Tokyo and Japan