These destinations thrive with incredible biodiversity and fragile environmental treasures
Japan’s remarkable scenery is celebrated globally, with unspoiled coastal landscapes enveloping its borders and about 70 percent of its land covered in abundant forests. This outstanding reputation is reflected in its five UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites, which present travelers with flourishing ecosystems protected for countless generations. Plan your journey to discover what makes these sites so significant.
Featuring a one-of-a-kind integrated ecological system, Shiretoko’s unique marine and land-based species span a dramatic volcanic mountain range. With this fascinating landscape covered in seasonal drift ice, you’re invited to explore the frozen fields on foot or cruise the open waters in search of whales, dolphins, and sea eagles.
In the Shirakami mountain range along the Sea of Japan, Shirakami-Sanchi features the largest remaining virgin beech forest in East Asia – a towering species once covering much of Northern Japan. Here, you can wander the mountains on a guided tour, meet the traditional Matagi hunters, and search for striking waterfalls.
Set a thousand kilometers from the mainland, the Ogasawara Islands offer a remote escape like no other. With over 30 islands, this picturesque destination’s unique ecosystem features rarely-seen flora and fauna. Explore the islands on a night tour or experience extraordinary snorkeling and kayaking.
Situated just beyond the southern part of Kyushu, Yakushima Island presents forests overflowing with giant Japanese cedar trees that have stood for over 1,000 years. Plus, gorgeous hiking trails grant passage through the island while hidden hot springs and beachfront experiences ensure you soak up the tantalizing scenery.
Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island make up this site southwest of Japan’s mainland. Much of the area is covered in subtropical rainforests, where rare, endemic species live. The biodiversity in this area is higher than other parts of Japan, make exploring enjoyable year-round.