Yakushima, located in the south of Kagoshima Prefecture, is the fifth largest island in Japan (excluding 4 main islands). About 20% of the island is inscribed as a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site. From the coast to the high peaks, on the terrain with a strong elevation difference of 1936 meters at the highest point, you can see a wide range of species from subtropical plants (such as banyan trees) to subarctic plants (such as rhododendrons). With rising altitude, you can also see trees of sugi or Japanese cedar. The young trees are called kosugi (small cedar) and those over 1000 years old are called yakusugi (Yakushima cedar). Cedars that are thought to be over 2000 years old are called jomonsugi (Jomon period cedar) and are well known nationwide. Along with the Shirakami-Sanchi (Shirakami Mountains), it is the first natural heritage site inscribed in Japan.

[ World Heritage Site Outline ]

  • Official Name
  • Yakushima
  • Classification
  • Natural Heritag
  • Year of Inscription
  • 1993

What is a World Heritage Site?

World Heritage Sites inscribed by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) are important heritage sites on the planet Earth that we, people all around the world, should protect and pass down to future generations. There are three categories of World Heritage Sites. The first category are natural heritage sites where natural features, such as the topography, the beauty of the scenery, and the abundance of flora and fauna, are recognized. The second category are cultural heritage sites that protect the great cultural sites with long history or ruins of such sites that have remained to the present day and should be kept for future generations. In Japan, there are several inscribed sites, such as Horyuji Temple and Itsukushima Shrine. The third category are mixed heritage sites that include both beautiful nature and the human culture that lived there, such as Peru's "Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu", which is famous as an archaeological site of the Inca Empire. These World Heritage Sites are protected by each country as unique sites that have an universal value to humanity.