The Outline of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai”


K.P.G.and the three Cities of Kamakura, Yokohama and Zushi had been making efforts toward the World Heritage registration of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” in June 2013. But unfortunately, it couldn't be inscribed on the List.

K.P.G.and the three Cities will further make efforts for early registration of Kamakura as a World Heritage site by rebuilding the concept and reselecting the nomination sites.

This page provides the summary of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai”.

The Outstanding Universal Value of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai”

One of the most distinctive features of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” is that cultural properties constructed by samurai, such as shrines/temples, temple/shrine sites, a residence site, Kiridoshi passes, and a port site, remain in unity with thedefensive topography enclosed by mountains on three sides and one side open to the sea.

This indicates the existence of the first national government of samurai in Japan (the Kamakura Shogunate), which was established by Minamoto-no-Yoritomo at the end ofthe 12thcentury. It opened the way to the samurai society and era that lasted over 700 years.At the same time, these properties also illustrate that the place is where the samurai culture was born that greatly influenced the following Japanese culture.

In addition, the remains in these mountain ridges show that the samurai constructed the taking advantage of the defensive topograpy using the civil engineering techniques of the time, and that “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” was the national government seat completely different from those of the past governments of Japan, such as Nara and Kyoto, which had been built on the model of Changan, the capital of Tang dynasty in China.

Because of this background, “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” is considered to have the outstanding universal value (*) to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

 (*) Outstanding universal value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional and of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity transcending national boundaries.

Properties that were Candidates for Inscription

Properties of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” that were candidates for inscription on the World Heritage Listhad been constructed in the defensive topography which crucially influenced the establishment of the samurai government and the maintenance of the government seat. These properties constructed in the main area surrounded by mountain ridges on three sides, on the foot of these mountains and in the valleys consisted of cultural assets designated by the national government as historic sites, important cultural properties, and national treasures as follows; (1) the compounds of shrines/temples such as Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kenchoji Temple, Daibutsu (Great Buddha) of Kamakura; (2) the buildings in the compounds; (3) temple sites such as Yofukuji Temple site; (4) Hojo Tokiwa residence site; (5) passes such as Asaina and Nagoe Kiridoshi passes; and (6) Wakaenoshima port site.

These cultural properties were constructed in about 150 years from the end of the 12thcentury to the early 14thcentury, anddeeply related to “the establishment of the samurai government” and “the creation of the samurai culture”.The historical documents, materials, such as old maps and the results of excavation surveys confirm that these cultural properties remain their basic features unchanged from the time of construction keeping the original geographical locations since the Kamakura period.

Cultural properties that constituted “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai”
Cultural properties of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai”are explained with the photos, maps and access information.

Access and recommended routes to tourthrough "Kamakura, Home of the Samurai"
Recommended routes to visit the World Heritage candidates in “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” and its highlights are provided with access information.

Properties that were Candidates for Inscription and the Buffer Zone

The buffer zone is the area set around the World Heritage site. The zone is not inscribed as World Heritage butrestrictions must be set on the height of buildings, etc. in the area so as not to damage the outstanding universal value and the environment of the World Heritage site. Setting the buffer zone is one of the requirements for inscription on the World Heritage List.

As shown in this map, the properties of “Kamakura, Home of the Samurai” were surrounded by the buffer zone and met the requirements of the UNESCO's "Operational Guidelines".

Specially, it was one of Kamakura’s characteristics that it's historic scenic zone (2*) protected by the Ancient Capitals Preservation Law (1*) was utilized as the candidates for the inscription and as the buffer zone. 
Kamakura was the key stage for the establishment of the Ancient Capitals Preservation Law, and the greenery in Kamakura has been protected by efforts of the citizens of Kamakura starting from “Oyatsu disturbance” in 1964.The historic scenic zone in Kamakura united with the properties such as Daibutsu (Great Buddha) or compounds of shrines/temples, gives richness and calmness to people who appreciated the zone.

One of Kamakura's big features is that, in addition to its historic heritage, the taste of the ancient capital has been kept in harmony with the historic sites and its greenery although Kamakura is in the suburbs of Tokyo.

1* Formal name: “Law Concerning Special Measures for Preservation of Historic Natural Features in Ancient Cities” (Law No.1 of 1966)

2* Good environment which has been formed in unity with people’s activities reflecting history and tradition specific to the area, and with historic monuments of value and their surroundings where the activities are conducted.