These sites range from Shiretoko National Park in the north island of Hokkaido, the centrally located temple complexes of Kyoto, Nara and Nikko, and the vibrantly colored castles of Okinawa—the country's most southern collection of islands.
The theme of nature is predominant throughout these eighteen sites. Visit the Ogasawara Islands with their unique ecosystems, the Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine set deep into the mountains, or the sacred sites and pilgrimage routes that snake through the Kii Mountain Range in western Japan.
If you are looking for somewhere slightly more accessible—yet no less captivating—take a trip to the floating shrine of Itsukushima in Hiroshima Prefecture, the original castle of Himeji-jo in Hyogo Prefecture, or the steep thatched roofs of the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama. The skeletal structure of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial stands as a symbol of peace as well as a stark reminder of an act of atrocity, and towering above them all is the most iconic site that has been a source of inspiration for centuries—Mt. Fuji.