Ogasawara Islands and Hiraizumi -designated as World Heritage sites at the same time

By TERRY - Last updated: 水曜日, 6月 29, 2011 - Save & Share - Leave a Comment

 Ogasawara Islands in  Ogasawara village in Tokyo  area  (http://www.ogasawaramura.com/en/  )was  designated  as a World Natural Heritage site on 24th and Hiraizumi in Iwate Pref. in Tohoku Region(http://hiraizumi.or.jp/en/index.html) was designated as a World Cultural Heritage  site on 25th (in Japan on 26th due to the time difference) by the 35th WHC(World Heritage Committee of UNESCO) held in Paris France.

Ogasawara Islands




 The reasons of  Ogasawara’s designation is that area is home to various unique species of  flora and fauna and the constant  efforts to preserve the indiginous species by the people there and NGOs have been recognized.   The  mayor of the village , Kazuo Morishita says ,”We ,the villagers will keep on exerting  necessary efforts to preserve our nature sticking together . ” 

Ogasawara Islands are located 1000 km south from  Tokyo metropolitan area with about 30 islands including  Iwo island which became a hard-fought field in WW2(that island is excluded from the designated site). As the archipelago has never been connected to a continent, it has developed unique species systems and called “Galapagos of the Orient” .

The villagers  cried in joy at the new of designation and hosted the Henkansai(/返還祭, the festival of  handover) on 25th, which commemorates the handover of the islands from US to Japan in 1968.  The vice mayor of the village composed “Ogasawara Sekaiisan Ondo”(/小笠原世界遺産音頭, Ogasawara  world heritage site memorial music) and formed “World Heritage Sisters” consisting of  female villagers in their 50~80s. the group danced that special music.       

Ogasawara village children celebrating the designation in raptures

The World Heritage Sisters dancing the "Sekaiisan Ondo"



And Hiraizumi town,  located in southwestern part of  Iwate,  is  an historical area being home to a lot of  old  buildings ,such as Chuson-ji temple and Moutsu-ji temple was ruled by  many clans through history. The town  especially enjoyed  high-brow cultures  developed by the Ohshu Fujiwara family in the 11th century.  The area once was recommended as a world culture heritage site in 2008 but that application was shelved due to the area’s insufficient rationale or proof  of the historical significance for human kind.

Iwate Governor,  Takuta Tasso gave a speech in joy emphasizing  the town has been a center of  rebuilding after the devastations of  a lot of wars through history and that this time the area is a symbol of  hope of  rebuilding of  Tohoku which is currently suffering from the aftermath of the huge earthquake and tsunami  disaster in March.  And the town mayor of  Hiraizumi, Masayoshi Sugawara  says in bliss,  “For the damaged areas of the earthquake disaster, the news of the designation of  Hiraizumi is a sensational  hope of  rebuilding. I hope  this will be helpful for the rebuilding  efforts and activities.”  

the priests of Chuson-ji, Motsu-ji and Hiraizumi town staff celebrating the designation

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