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 not been able 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 will Hikone Castle become a World Heritage Site? A We are aiming to have it inscribed on World Heritage List in 2025. To do so, by the end of March 2023 we need to submit to the Agency for Cultural Affairs the nomination dossier draft and other documents necessary for Hikone Castle to be inscribed on World Heritage List, and the Agency needs to decide to nominate Hikone Castle in the summer of 2023.
  • 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 government in the Edo period from a worldwide perspective. Hikone Castle preserves the castle keep (the palace, the residences of senior retainers, the garden, the site of a school, and other buildings and features that show how government worked during the Edo period. The governance system in which shogunate and daimyo governments governed their respective territories and maintained the stability of Japan as a whole during the Edo period is unique. Therefore, it would be worth for the world to preserve Hikone Castle as a World Heritage site.
  • QWhat are the nominated boundaries of Hikone Castle? A The boundary is inside from the secondary moat of Hikone Castle added in Umoregi residence. Inside the secondary moats of Hikone Castle are the castle keep, the palace, the residences of retainers, the garden, and the site of a school, all of which were indispensable for Edo period government (1603–1867). The inside from the secondary moat added in Umoregi residence is designated as the National Special Historic Site area.

    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 establish a management system to maintain the value of Hikone Castle, and (3) promote local development appropriate for a World Heritage Site, with local residents 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 residents 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, greeting tourists, and talking about Hikone Castle to your friends who don’t know it well. These supports will become “Hikone’s hospitality” and lead to the development of Hikone as a city worthy of having a World Heritage Site.
    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 committee for Opinion Exchange and Support”, 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 Committee” for Opinion Exchange and Support

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 an Important Cultural Property of Japan (National Special Historic Site). However, if it was inscribed on World Heritage List, it will be protected as a treasure for humanity. In addition, local residents 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 residents can assist by actively disseminating various types of information about the area.
    Some people are concerned that facilities at the site will have to be relocated to another location, and that it will be difficult to rebuild houses even in the buffer zone, after Hikone Castle was inscribed on World Heritage List. Plans and standards have already been in effect for the protection of the underground features and the atmosphere of Edo period castle town within the boundaries of Hikone Castle and its surrounding area. We will continue to engage in management
    based on these plans and standards after inscription. For this reason, even if Hikone Castle was inscribed on World Heritage List, it will have no impact on people’s daily lives insofar as major renovations that significantly alter their current state of facilities at Hikone Castle are not undertaken. We are of the view that rebuilding homes will not be any more difficult in the buffer zone than before.
  • 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 Omi Hachiman 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 residents to keep living in Hikone.