Mount Fuji finally gets World Heritage Listing

Japan‘s Mount Fuji, a series of ancient terraced rice paddies in China, and the desert city of Agardaz in Niger are some of the cultural jewels granted World Heritage status by UNESCO at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee currently in session from 16 to 27 June 2013 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Fujisan, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 metres (12,460 feet), is one of the country’s most recognisable sights. The snow-capped volcano “has inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”, UNESCO said.Japan had attempted to register Mount Fuji as a natural World Heritage site back in 2003, but were thwarted by the illegal dumping of garbage and the fact that the peak lacks global uniqueness as a volcanic mountain. This time the application to register Fuji as a “cultural” heritage site, rather than a “natural” heritage site was successful.

“The awe that Fujisan’s majestic form and intermittent volcanic activity has inspired was transformed into religious practices that linked Shintoism and Buddhism, people and nature,” documents prepared ahead of the meeting said.

Mount Fuji “inspired artists in the early 19th century to produce images that transcended cultures, allowed the mountain to be known around the world, and had a profound influence on the development of Western art”.

Fujisan, which is located some 100 kilometres southwest of the capital Tokyo, last erupted around 300 years ago. Images of its peak adorn tourism literature published at home and abroad.

Mount Fuji is the seventeenth Japanese site to be inscribed by UNESCO, this year is the 20th anniversary of the very first:Yakushima and Shirakami Sanchi.

The committee also granted the historic town of Agadez in Niger, seen as “a gateway to the desert”, World Heritage status on Saturday, UNESCO said. The historic city, which includes a mosque with an imposing minaret — the tallest ever built in mudbrick — and the Sultan’s Palace, dates back to the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

UNESCO also granted World Heritage status to Canada’s Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, which was an Arctic maritime base for Basque mariners in the 16th century.The site, which includes the remains of rendering ovens, living quarters and underwater ship wrecks and whale bone deposits are “the earliest, most comprehensive and best preserved archaeological testimony of a pre-industrial whaling station,” according to UNESCO.

Another successful application went to the landscapes of terraced rice fields of Honghe Hani, south of the Chinese province of Yunnan, which reflect “in an exceptional way a specific interaction with the environment mediated by integrated farming and water management systems. In some places, you can see up to 3,000 suspended terraces on the slopes” of Ailao mountains, it added.

Qatar and Fiji both received their first World Heritage sites inscriptions on Saturday, for Al Zubarah Archaeological Site and the Levuka Historical Port Town respectively. Other natural wonders and cultural jewels to be granted World Heritage status were Italy’s Mount Etna, the Hill Forts of Rajasthan in India and the Namib Sand Sea.

Sources:, BBC News, Japan Times, Yahoo News


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