About World Heritage Sites

  • QWhat is World Heritage? A It is heritage precious for humankind and the earth that should be passed on to the future. World Heritage Sites are based on the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention), which was adopted by the UNESCO General Assembly in 1972, and are protected as heritage of value of mankind as a whole through global co-operation. Properties recognized as having value into the future for the whole of humanity are inscribed in the World Heritage List. Here, “value” includes historical,artistic,and academic value.


  • QWhat does it take to become a World Heritage Site? A A property must be recognized by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee. Each State Party of the World Heritage Convention firstly lists his or her property(ies) on Tentative List, and then nominates to UNESCO to have his or her property(ies) inscribed on the World Heritage List. ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) evaluates nominated properties, and based on the results, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee decides whether to inscribe them.


  • QWhat types of World Heritage are there? A There are three types of heritage: cultural, natural and mixed. Cultural heritage includes buildings and archaeological sites created in human history. Natural heritage shows us the formation of the earth and the evolution of plants and animals. A mixed heritage possess the values of both cultural and natural heritage. Hikone Castle aims to be inscribed as a cultural heritage site.
  • QHow many World Heritage Sites are there? A There are more than 1,100 World Heritage Sites worldwide. UNESCO World Heritage Centre website Agency for Cultural Affairs website

Trying to inscribe Hikone Castle on World Heritage List

  • QWhy isn’t Hikone Castle a World Heritage Site? A We had struggled to identify how it is valuable for the world in a way different from Himeji-jo. It is not allowed for separately inscribing properties on World Heritage List from the same period, of the same type, and of the same value.
    It is necessary to explain how Hikone Castle has a different value from Himeji-jo. Himeji-jo, which was added on Japan’s Tentative List along with Hikone Castle in 1992, was inscribed on World Heritage List first as a masterpiece of human history that shows early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture in wood.
  • QWhen Hikone Castle will be inscribed on World Heritage List? A At the shortest schedule, 2027 will be inscription year. Hikone Castle has been brought on "Preliminary Assessment of a Potential Nomination to the World Heritage" that was introduced and operated by UNESCO from 2023. Preliminary Assessment takes 2 years. If the procedures will be favorable, Hikone Castle nominated on 2025, and inscribed through World Heritage Committee on 2027, which is the shortest schedule.
  • QWhat is a Preliminary Assessment? A The Preliminary Assessment is a desk-based process for all sites that may be nominated to the World Heritage List and is undertaken by the relevant States Parties. It also provides States Parties with an opportunity for enhanced dialogue with the Advisory Bodies. The Preliminary Assessment will be undertaken by ICOMOS and IUCN on a joint basis whenever relevant, and will be an independent desk review, which will include consultation with expert reviewers. Based on available information, the conclusions of the assessment will include an indication of whether the site may have potential to justify Outstanding Universal Value. If so, specific guidance and advice, in the form of recommendations, will be provided to assist the States Parties in the development of the nomination dossier.
    It is decided on 44th session of the World Heritage Committee to adopt Preliminary Assessment, and voluntary Preliminary Assessment will commence with the deadline for submission by 15 September 2023. Preliminary Assessment will be mandatory, meaning that only nominations with a Preliminary Assessment will be examined from 2027 onwards.
  • QIs Hikone Castle worthy of being registered as a World Heritage site? A Yes, it is enough valuable to be inscribed on World Heritage List, in the point of being the best-preserved out of all castles in Japan so as to show unique system of Japanese governance in the Tokugawa period from a worldwide perspective. Hikone Castle is a single site that collectively well-preserves the archaeological remains including moats, stone walls, the daimyo palace, residences of senior vassals and a garden, and buildings, that tell how daimyo governments worked during the Tokugawa period, and it thus can solely explain that castles contributed to Pax Tokugawana.
    In the global context, Japan was once regarded as a remarkable society that samurai had stably reigned for over 200 years while the world underwent dizzying changes era of 17th to 19th centuries. Therefore, no doubt Hikone Castle is worth to be a World Heritage Site as a living witness to Japan at that era.
  • QWhat are the nominated boundaries of Hikone Castle? A The boundary is inside from the secondary moat of Hikone Castle. Inside the secondary moats of Hikone Castle are archeological remains such as stone walls, daimyo’s palace, the residences of vassals and a garden, and the castle keep and other buildings, all of which were indispensable for Tokugawa period system of local governance, and are collectively preserved.

    Property and Buffer Zone Boundaries

  • QWhat needs to be done to have Hikone Castle inscribed as a World Heritage Site? A We meet the three requirements; demonstration of value, proper management, and community participation. In order to have Hikone Castle inscribed on World Heritage List, it is necessary (1) to prove that Hikone Castle is valuable for the world, (2) to operate a management system to maintain the value of Hikone Castle, and (3) to promote local development appropriate for a World Heritage Site, with local communities taking the lead.
    In particular, since in recent years emphasis has come to be placed on having inscription on World Heritage List promote sustainable development, it is important that local communities connected with Hikone Castle grasp its inscription as their own personal matters and promote efforts to protect and manage the castle.
  • QIs there anything I can do as an individual to help Hikone Castle become a World Heritage site? A We’re hoping that people will offer their support in various ways. It is important for each individual to consider how they can connect to the world through Hikone Castle, and to do things that you can, one by one. For example, cleaning streets or roads around your houses, greeting tourists, and talking about Hikone Castle to your friends who don’t know it well.
    Also, it is important to highlight that Hikone Castle needs to be inscribed on World Heritage List. We have awareness-raising goods at Hikone Castle World Heritage Inscription Promotion Office of Hikone City, and would be delighted if supporter displayed them at their homes and workplaces. Of course, creating your own supporting goods and displaying them, or attaching the Hikone Castle World Heritage inscription logo on printed materials are also great ways to offer your support. If you join the “Hikone Castle World Heritage Inscription: "1,000 Supporters' Committee for Hikone Castle World Heritage Inscription", you will be provided with information about Hikone Castle and World Heritage, and can easily use the Hikone Castle World Heritage inscription logo.

    Hikone Castle World Heritage Inscription: "1,000 Supporters' Committee for Hikone Castle World Heritage Inscription"

After Hikone Castle was inscribed on World Heritage List

  • Q What would be the benefits if Hikone Castle became a World Heritage site? A Hikone Castle will be recognized as a world treasure, local development alongside World Heritage Site, one of the Sustainable Development Goals, will be advanced, and a new connection to the world will be created. Hikone Castle is already recognized as a Special Historic Site of Japan. If it was inscribed on World Heritage List, it will be protected as a treasure for humanity. In addition, local communities would be fonder of Hikone Castle, advancing local development and economic activities centered on the castle.
  • QIf Hikone Castle becomes a World Heritage site, will there be any problems? A There might be, for example, temporary traffic jams. In Japan, it is said that during the first few years after inscription on World Heritage List, the number of tourists is 1.3 to 4 times greater. Hikone City is considering initiatives to disperse tourists so as not to cause problems, such as traffic congestion and crowding at Hikone Castle, and to promote wide-area tourism in cooperation with the prefecture and neighboring municipalities.
    Improving hospitality provided for tourists is also effective. Local communities can assist by actively disseminating various types of information about the area.
    Some people are concerned that it will be difficult to rebuild houses in the buffer zone after Hikone Castle was inscribed on World Heritage List. Actually, plans and standards have already been in effect for the control of the surrounding area of Hikone Caslte. They do not ban local residents to rebuild houses but promote appropriate townscape development. We will continue to engage in management based on these plans and standards after inscription.
  • QIs it only the area around Hikone Castle to be involved in Hikone Castle
    inscription on World Heritage List?
    A It is all of Shiga. Local development that makes the most of Hikone Castle, and is appropriate for a World Heritage Site, is not an effort limited to Hikone Castle and its surroundings. Not limited in the area from Nagahama City to Omihachiman City, where Hikone Castle once served as a governance center and maintained social stability, but in Shiga as a whole, efforts should be made to uncover new attractions, promote local development and regional tourism based on these attractions, and make tourists who come to see Hikone Castle inscribed on World Heritage List want to visit other parts of Shiga and perhaps even live in Shiga.
  • QOnce registered, will it always be a World Heritage site? A If determined that its value has been lost, it may be delisted. If a value as World Heritage Site is threatened by development, conflict, or natural disasters, it may be placed on In Danger List of the World Heritage Committee. If this happens and it is then judged to have lost its Outstanding Universal Value, it will be delisted from the World Heritage List. In recent years, Liverpool in the UK and Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany have been delisted.
    *After inscription as a World Heritage site, the World Heritage Committee will conduct periodic monitoring surveys to confirm the preservation status of the property.
  • QWhat efforts are necessary after Hikone Castle becomes a World Heritage Site? A It is important to carefully protect Hikone Castle while promoting local development appropriate for a World Heritage Site. Inscription on World Heritage List is considered as a sustainable local development initiative by the SDGs. Even after Hikone Castle is inscribed on World Heritage List, while preserving and improving Hikone Castle, it is necessary for everyone to work together to create a city that makes the most of the castle and is worthy of World Heritage status, so as to attract people to visit and local communities to keep living in Hikone.