March 7, 2023

Japan links World Heritage Sites with iconic cherry-blossom trees 

The best of Japan’s tourism is once again on show at ITB Berlin with a unique project. World Heritage Japan is connecting 16 World Heritage sites via a trail through the country’s famous Sakura trees.

A blooming cherry blossom tree, or sakura, is arguably one of the most recognisable images in Japan. Travellers from all around the world visit the country for a look at the beautiful trees, which blossom approximately between March and April, with a blooming period of up to four months.

Japan’s cherry blossom trees are something of a natural wonder and source of national pride, so it makes sense why they are the centrepiece of a new tourist programme. An innovative idea, 16 out of 20 World Heritage sites in Japan will be “linked” via a trail that offers travellers a chance to experience the country’s history while also marvelling at its continuing natural beauty. 

Described as a “relay,” the trail takes travellers through heritage destinations like the Itsukushima Shinto shrine in Miyajima Himeji-jo and the Himeji Cherry Festival. Along the way are pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range temples, gardens and archaeological sites representing the country’s Buddhist heritage. The relay got started in February, with the Nakijin Gusuku Castle Cherry Blossom Festival taking place, and will conclude with the Hashino Yaezakura Cherry Blossom Festival in Kamaishi which will be happening mid-May. 

Japan has previously hosted a similar “relay” in 2020, the same year the country hosted the Olympic Games. To honour the year and occasion, Japan formed a relay route of its 20 Heritage Sites, including the historic monuments of ancient Kyoto, hidden Christian sites in the Nagasaki region and Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its cultural landscape.

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Photo: © Sora Sagano – Unsplash