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Four Kansai candidates for World Cultural Heritage

The Cultural Agency has announced that 24 candidate sites have been recommended from across Japan for registration as World Cultural Heritage sites by UNESCO. From the Kansai region, four candidates are recommended: the Asuka area in Nara Pref.,groups of temples and shrines, and cultural scenery in Wakasa in Fukui Pref., sacred sites of Mt. Hakusan and cultural scenery, spanning Fukui and other prefectures, and 88 sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in Tokushima and other prefectures.
The Asuka area is in the southern central part of Nara Prefecture. It was the nation's capital in and around the 7th century, A.D., and was the nation's political and cultural center. It is rich with history and culture. Wakasa in Fukui Pref. is on the coast of the Sea of Japan and prospered as a port city. It is dotted with historic old temples, housing national treasures and important cultural assets and has been described as 'Nara with the sea.' Mt. Hakusan and cultural scenery include three zenjyodo (paths up the mountain) and three riding grounds, starting points for the paths. The 88 sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in Shikoku cover approximately 1,400km, on which pilgrims travel to visit temples where Buddhist priest Kukai (Kobo-Daishi, 774-835) is said to have practiced asceticism. Since the 16th century, there have been constant flows of devout people making pilgrimage on these routes.
Existing World Cultural Heritage sites in Kansai are Himeji Castle in Hyogo Pref.; Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area and Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara in Nara Pref.; Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures; and Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range spanning Wakayama, Nara and Mie prefectures. At the same time, Noh, Ningyo Joruri Bunraku and Kabuki, all performing arts originating from Kansai, are registered as World's Intangible Cultural Heritage.