HOME > about > Application Requirements for Japan Heritage Desgination

Application Requirements for Japan Heritage Desgination

Designation Process

The Agency for Cultural Affairs solicits annually for application for Japan Heritage designation through the prefectural boards of education.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs designates Japan Heritage based on the judgement of the Japan Heritage Review Board, a board consisting of professionals from outside the Agency.

Criteria for Japan Heritage Designation

Japan Heritage designation is based on three criteria:

  • 1Historically unique traditions or customs that have been passed on for generations.
  • 2A clear theme that supports the area’s appeal and that is represented at the core of the narrative. This can include cultural properties such as structures, archaeological sites, sightseeing spots, and local festivals.
  • 3Inclusion of a narrative, rather than simply a summary of regional history and a description of local cultural properties.

Japan Heritage status is divided into two categories:


Application Requirements


An applicant may be a municipal government. Applications under the Collective Category may be submitted jointly in the name of all relevant cities or municipal governments. If the municipal governments are in the same prefecture, the prefecture may apply on their behalf.


Each application must include at least one nationally-designated tangible or intangible Cultural Property. Locally recognized or unrecognized cultural properties that are part of the narrative may also be included.

Conditions for designation application

Site submissions for the Local Category must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • 1A municipal government that has formulated The Basic Scheme for Historic and Cultural Properties or Plan on Maintenance and Improvement of Traditional Scenery.
  • 2A municipal government with submissions that have been included on the World Heritage List Nominations or its Tentative List.

Review Criteria

There are three criteria for Japan Heritage designation.

1. Narrative describes the distinct historical features of the area as well as supporting the appeal of Japan as a whole.
※In specific terms, a comprehensive review of applicants is judged by the following points:

  • Interest
    Narrative should encourage and develop visitors’ interest in the area
  • Originality
    Narrative reveals new insights and information about the area.
  • Appeal
    Narrative is easily and clearly understood without specific knowledge
  • Uniqueness
    Narrative has exceptional aspects not found in other areas of Japan
  • Local
    Narrative includes unique local culture

2. A concrete strategy with a future vision of how an area can develop while taking advantage of its cultural properties.

3. Efforts are coordinated to revitalize the local areas through Japan Heritage, such as strategic and effective domestic and international promotion of the narratives