Three Amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites

by GoWithGuide travel specialist

Planning a trip and want to check out some of the best sights Japan has to offer? A castle that was the first to be granted the World Heritage honor, a temple that is home to the great Buddha, and a very sacred shrine. Read on for three of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan:

Kasuga Taisha

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The World Heritage site of Kasuga Taisha (Kasuga Grand Shrine) was established to enshrine the local deity at around the time of the transfer of the capital 1300 years ago. The brilliant vermilion shinden in the primeval forest is magnificent and mysterious.

Kasuga Shrine which is located inside Nara Park has continued on from ancient times with its brilliant red shinden, its beautiful cloisters and an overwhelming impression to its guests. Its red appearance among the lushly green cedar grove at the bottom of Kasugayama Primeval Forest evokes that mystery of a sacred country of the Far East. The gorgeous main building that has also been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site has splendor and grace. It has an appearance as a sacred place that would be appropriate to enshrine a god.  

There are more than 1000 events throughout the year at Kasuga Taisha, but since there are many events that can be generally visited, come and visit according to your schedule. Within those, during the special services known as the Chugen Mantoro held within the cloisters in February and August, 2000 stone lanterns and 1000 hanging lanterns are lit which create a wondrous atmosphere.  

Admission: ¥ 500 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Kasuga Taisha
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Kasuga Taisha
Tours of Kasuga Taisha

Himeji Castle

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Himeji Castle is famous for having been recognized as a National Treasure and an Important Cultural Property due to its beauty among the numerous castles in Japan and its keep (the largest central structure on the castle grounds) that has retained its appearance from the Edo Era. Having been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it was the first time that Japan had been given this honor. Due to its pure white exterior and the surrounding area where many wild birds resided, it was also called Shirasagi-jo (White Heron Castle). The contrast between the linked castle keep constructed from multiple roof layers and the pure white exterior is exquisite. Also, there is another reason besides its beauty which explains its status as one of the famous castles of Japan. The reason lies in its construction. In the past, a castle’s quality placed great importance on how well the demarcation of the castle grounds were constructed. Himeji Castle possessed a spiral demarcation that was unusual in Japan, and it is said that it had fortifications meant for a high castle such as Edo Castle. The castle which was known as Japan’s most beautiful underwent a major restoration from 2009 to May 2015, and the exterior walls that had been painted in white lime plaster were beautifully reborn over time. Its profile has further increased since its grand opening. By all means, please come to Himeji Castle which has been able to keep its valuable presence while many other historic structures ended up burning down in war.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 1,000 / Child: ¥ 300

Guidebook from Planetyze about Himeji Castle
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Himeji Castle
Tours of Himeji Castle


People have always loved Todaiji, which was completed in the year 752 and continues to be a religious place down to this day. The essential sights include the buildings that were rebuilt after being destroyed in fires caused by wars, Daibutsu (the great Buddha), masterpieces from the geniuses Unkei and Kaikei, and the statues of the guardian deities.

Todaiji is a cultural property in Nara that is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to countless works of art and structures that are designated National Treasures, and is full of objects of extremely significant cultural value. Here, you will experience the dynamic atmosphere of a history spanning the ages in such objects as the main temple building, which houses Japan’s largest temple, and Daibutsu (the great Buddha statue).

At a height of 8.4 meters, the huge wooden images of guardian deities (National Treasures) flanking Nandaimon on both sides are not to be missed. Records show that these figures were made by the genius Buddhist image sculptors Unkei and Kaikei and their 13 disciples in just 69 days during the Kamakura period in the year 1208. These vivid and powerful statues stand magnificently, captured in a moment with their clothes fluttering in the wind. They have an incredible realism so that even their blood vessels can be seen. The image of the powerful Rikishi is a masterpiece of art from the middle of the Kamakura period.

Admission: Adult: ¥ 500 / Child: ¥ 300

Guidebook from Planetyze about Todaiji
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Todaiji
Tours of Todaiji

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