Efforts Made to Achieve Inscription on the World Heritage List

Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku

The four prefectures of Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita abound in greenery and natural beauty, including the Shirakami-Sanchi and Shiretoko World Heritage sites. Blessed with such rich natural surroundings, our ancestors developed a wonderful culture known as the Jomon culture, approximately 15,000 years ago.

The spirit of this culture can still be felt at Sannai-Maruyama (Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture), a special historic site of Japan containing the remains of a large settlement; at Oyu Stone Circle (Kazuno City, Akita Prefecture), a large-scale monument and special historic site; as well as at many other Jomon archaeological sites preserved in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku.

To know the Jomon culture is not only essential to understand Japanese historical and cultural history, but also represents a sophisticated, mature culture that developed as a result of the harmonious coexistence of nature and people over the course of approximately 10,000 years, as a unique prehistoric culture in world history.

We consider these Jomon Archaeological Sites to be valuable cultural heritages that should be passed on to future generations as common treasures of humanity, and the four prefectures and relevant municipalities are cooperating with the common aim of achieving inscription of the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku on the World Heritage List.

Since their value as a World Heritage candidate has been recognized, the Jomon Archaeological Sites were put on a Tentative List of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Date of listing: January 5, 2009
Property name: Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, Northern Tohoku, and other regions
*Click here for the outline.

Outstanding Universal Value of the Jomon Archaeological Sites

For inscription on the World Heritage List, it is necessary to prove that the property has Outstanding Universal Value.

The Jomon Archaeological Sites meet the following criteria for Outstanding Universal Value prescribed in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention:

① The Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku provide a unique testimony to a prehistoric culture that achieved permanent settlements based on hunting, gathering and fishing, and developed into the mature Jomon culture.

Criterion iii: Bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization that is living or has disappeared

Unlike anywhere else in the world at that time, the Jomon culture established permanent settlements based on hunting, fishing and gathering rather than being concentrated on agriculture and animal husbandry. It is a very unique prehistoric culture in world history.

Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku are home to many Jomon sites, and served as the central cultural sphere where such characteristic aspects of the Jomon period as cylindrical pottery, Kamegaoka culture, etc. flourished. In particular, one of the earliest known pottery and lacquerware, many clay figures involved in spiritual culture, and a significant number of large-scale stone circles have been excavated from the Jomon sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku, providing strong evidence of the characteristics of Jomon culture and indicating the development of the materially and spiritually mature Jomon culture.

In addition, the continuation of a cooperative and open society without protective facilities at the Jomon Archaeological Sites indicates the development of the socially mature Jomon culture.

② The Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku provide outstanding examples of settlements sustained over a long period of approximately 10,000 years, the harmonious relationship between people and the environment, and the way of land use by adapting to climate and environmental changes.

Criteria v: Be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use that is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change

Jomon culture realized sustainable settlements for a long period of approximately 10,000 years by adapting to unique ecosystems blessed with biodiversity that were formed by rapid climate warming during the last glacial to postglacial period.

Jomon people established an artificial ecosystem called Jomon satoyama consisting of useful plants such as chestnuts, walnuts and lacquer trees in a natural environment with deciduous broad-leaved forests mainly comprised of Japanese beech, to sustain their lives. In this way sustainable settlements were secured using natural resources based on the establishment of Jomon satoyama, instead of relying on animal husbandry and agriculture that changed nature significantly to secure crop yields.

The remains of settlements show a systematic arrangement of dwellings, graves, storage pits, ritual spaces, dumps and roads, clearly indicating their continuous use under specific social control.

Therefore, it can be said that the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, Northern Tohoku and other regions provide an outstanding example of interactive relationship between humans and the environment and land-use that are characteristic of prehistoric culture on the Japanese archipelago.

Component Properties

The Jomon Archaeological Sites consist of 17 archaeological sites-six sites in Hokkaido, eight in Aomori, one in Iwate and two in Akita. (Click here for more information)

Relevant Prefectures and Municipalities

A total of 18 prefectures and municipalities that contain sites have proposed the property jointly propose the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List.

Prefectures Four prefectures: Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita
Municipalities 14 municipalities 【Hokkaido】 Hakodate City, Chitose City, Date City, Mori Town, Toyako Town
【Aomori】 Aomori City, Hirosaki City, Hachinohe City, Tsugaru City, Sotogahama Town,Shichinohe Town
【Iwate】 Ichinohe Town
【Akita】 Kazuno City, Kitaakita City

Promotional Framework

The governors of the four prefectures and the mayors of the related municipalities have concluded an agreement to cooperate toward the World Heritage inscription of the Jomon sites within the following promotional framework.

Headquarters for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites
【Structure】
Director: Aomori Governor
Assistant Directors: Hokkaido, Iwate and Akita governors, superintendents of four prefectural boards of education
Members: Board of education superintendents and mayors of relevant municipalities that contain sites
【Role】
Supervision of joint promotional activities by the four prefectures

Council for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites
【Structure】
Chair: Director, World Cultural Heritage Registration Promotion Office, Aomori Prefectural Government
Coordinators: Heads of management of Hokkaido, Iwate and Akita prefectures
Members: Heads of management of municipalities with property components
【Role】
Smooth implementation of individual projects under the supervision of the Headquarters
Expert Committee for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites
【Structure】
Experts of archaeology, World Heritage, etc.
【Role】
Research and studies of technical matters to provide comments

(Secretariat: Aomori Prefectural Government)

Promotional Framework

* Click the image to enlarge it.

History

Date Major developments
2006 Sep. 28 The Agency for Cultural Affairs announces that it will use a system whereby proposals for candidates to be put on the Tentative List have to be submitted.
Nov. 28 A proposal on the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Aomori is submitted.
(Aomori Pref., Aomori City, Hachinohe City, Tsugaru City, Shichinohe Town)
Nov. 30 A proposal on Stone Circles is submitted.
(Akita Pref., Kazuno City, Kitaakita City)
2007 Jan. 23 The proposal by Aomori and Akita prefectures becomes a matter that has to be continuously deliberated at the Council for Cultural Affairs’ Subdivision on Cultural Properties.
Aug. 27, 28 Agreement on a joint proposal by four prefectures is reached at the Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku Governors’ Summit. It is decided that the property name will be “Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku.”
Dec. 19 The four prefectural governors submit a proposal on the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku to the Chief of the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
2008 Mar. 24 A hearing is conducted by the World Heritage Special Committee’s First Working Group.
Sep. 26 The Council for Cultural Affairs, Subdivision on Cultural Properties decides to put the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku on the Tentative List.
2009 Jan. 5 The UNESCO World Heritage Committee Secretariat (UNESCO World Heritage Center) places the property, which has been renamed, “Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, Northern Tohoku and other regions,” on the World Heritage Tentative List.
Jun. 1 The Headquarters for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites and other bodies is established.
2012 Dec. 11 The Headquarters for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites decides to increase the number of sites included in the property from 15 to 18.
【Sites added to the property】
・Kiusu Earthwork Burial Circles (historic site, Chitose City)
・Kakinoshima Site (historic site, Hakodate City)
・Omori-Katsuyama Site (historic site, Hirosaki City)
Dec. 11 The official logo for the Jomon sites is announced.
The official logo for the Jomon sites
2013 Mar. 29 A draft nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List is submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Property name: Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku (tentative name)
Jun. 24 A draft nomination (revision) for inscription on the World Heritage List is submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Jul. 24 An original nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List is submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Property name: Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku (tentative name)
Aug. 30 We established the official website “JOMON JAPAN: Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku”.
Nov. 29 Our official English website was released.
2014 Mar. 31 The website for kids “JOMON Guruguru” was established.
2015 Mar. 27 A draft nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List is submitted to the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
Property name: Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku (tentative name)

Conferences

Headquarters for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of the Jomon Archaeological Sites

1st session October 19, 2009
2nd session December 11, 2012
3rd session February 28, 2014
4th session December 26, 2015

Council for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of the Jomon Archaeological Sites

FY 2009 1st session September 3, 2009
2nd session December 4, 2009
3rd session February 26, 2010
FY 2010 1st session July 12, 2010
2nd session November 1, 2010
3rd session February 14, 2011
FY 2011 1st session May 31, 2011
2nd session September 6, 2011
3rd session February 8, 2012
FY 2012 1st session May 31, 2012
2nd session September 21, 2012
3rd session November 13, 2012
4th session March 12, 2013
FY 2013 1st session April 24, 2013
2nd session June 3, 2013
3rd session October 30, 2013
4th session February 20, 2014
FY 2014 1st session May 16, 2014
2nd session February 9, 2015
FY 2015 1st session October 26, 2015
2nd session December 11, 2015
3rd session December 26, 2015
4th session March 24, 2016
FY 2016 1st session September 23, 2016
2nd session March 6, 2017

Expert Committee for the Promotion of the World Heritage Inscription of Jomon Archaeological Sites

FY 2009 1st session September 21, 2009
2nd session December 25, 2009
3rd session March 22, 2010
FY 2010 4th session August 23, 2010
5th session November 26, 2010
6th session March 10, 2011
FY 2011 7th session June 17, 2011
8th session October 7, 2011
9th session February 24, 2012
FY 2012 10th session July 6, 2012
11th session October 17, 2012
12th session March 5, 2013
FY 2013 13th session May 10, 2013
Opinion Exchange Session of Expert Committee March 14, 2014
FY 2014 14th session March 9, 2015
FY 2015 15th session December 25, 2015
FY 2016 16th session December 14, 2016

Other activities

Nov. 16 –18, 2009 Hold a Jomon culture explanatory meeting (London).
・Explanation of Jomon culture to archaeologists and other people in Britain.
Sep. 9 – 11, 2010 Invite experts from Europe and the United States.
・Visits to candidate properties, opinion exchanges with the Agency for Cultural Affairs in four prefectures, etc.
Jan. 17 and 18, 2011 Hold a Jomon culture explanatory meeting (Paris).
・Explanation of Jomon culture to archaeologists and other people in France
Sep. 21 – 24, 2011 Hold an international conference (Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Akita prefectures).
・Visits to some sites included in the property, symposium, etc.
Nov. 24 – Dec. 4, 2011 Dispatch staffs to an overseas expert meetings.
・Inspection to a World Heritage site (Prehistoric Pile Dwellings Around the Alps, Switzerland)
・Participation in the ICOMOS General Assembly (France)
・Participation and presentation at the ICAHM Annual Conference (France)
Jan. 29, 2012 Hold a forum to promote inscription of the Jomon archaeological sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo).
・Outline the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
・Lectures, panel discussion, etc.
Jun. 26 – Jul. 2, 2012 Dispatch staffs to a session of the World Heritage Committee (Russia)
Sep. 9 – 17, 2012 Hold an international conference (Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita)
・Visits to all sites included in the property, symposium, etc.
Nov. 25 – Dec. 4, 2012 Dispatch staffs to an overseas expert meeting.
・Presentation at the ICAHM Annual Conference (Peru)
Jan. 27, 2013 Hold a forum to promote the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo)
・Outline of individual sites included in the property
・Outline of the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
Jun. 17 – 20, 2013 Dispatch staffs to a session of the World Heritage Committee (Cambodia)
Jul. 23 – 27, 2013 Hold an international conference (Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita)
・Visits to sites included in the property, symposium, etc.
Jun. 12 – 17, 2014 Presentation at The 20th Congress of IPPA (The Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association) 2014 (Cambodia)
Jan. 26, 2014 Hold a forum to promote the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo)
・Lectures
・Outline of the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
Sep. 8 – 13, 2014 Hold an international conference (Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Akita)
・Visits to sites included in the property, symposium, etc.
Nov. 7 – 14, 2014 Dispatch staffs to an overseas expert meeting.
・Participation and presentation at the ICOMOS General Assembly (Italy)
Jan. 24, 2015 Hold a forum to promote the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo)
・Lectures
・Outline of the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
Jun. 29 – Jul 7, 2015 Dispatch staffs to a session of the World Heritage Committee (Germany)
Jan. 24, 2016 Hold a forum to promote the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo)
・Lectures
・Panel discussion
・Outline of the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
Jan. 25, 2016 Hold an international conference (Tokyo)
Jan. 29, 2017 Hold a forum to promote the inscription of the Jomon sites on the World Heritage List (Tokyo)
・Lectures
・Outline of the efforts made to achieve inscription on the World Heritage List
Jan. 30, 2017 Hold an international conference (Tokyo)
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