Kii Mountain Range
Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range is a group
of sacred sites and pilgrimage ways connecting them, which are
distributed in Mie, Nara, and Wakayama Prefectures, Japan.
ancient times, the Kii Mountain Range has nurtured the spirit of nature
worship, in which mountains, rocks, forests, rivers, and waterfalls are
deified and revered as object of worship. Located to the south of Nara
Basin, site of one of Japanís ancient capitals, this region came to be
revered by people in the Nara and Kyoto capitals as well, recognized as
a sacred place where gods descend and reside.
Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the 6th century, the Kii Mountain
Range became the central place for Buddhist ascetic practices. The
Shingon sect of esoteric Buddhism, which was introduced in the 9th
century, also established itself choosing this area as a place for their
the mid-10th to the 11th century, the Shugen sect of ascetic Buddhism
was established as an indigenous religion of Japan, combining elements
of pre-Buddhist mountain worship, esoteric Buddhism and Taoist belief,
which was introduced from China. The followers of Shugen sect chose the
Kii Mountain Range as the principal site for their practices.
the strength of the diversity of religious beliefs and activities which
have been nurtured by the regionís unique geological features, climate
and vegetation, the three outstanding sacred sites of Yoshino and Omine,
Kumano Sanzan and Koyasan, and the pilgrimage routes linking them have
developed. Buddhist priests and practitioners of the Shugen ascetic
disciplines engage in active religious rituals and activities, and the
general public visit those places continually for pilgrimage, which
represents a living culture, alive in the spirituality of the Japanese
people for over more than a thousand years.
elements in the core area of the World Heritage Site (inscribed in 2004)
are designated as National Historic Sites, Places of Scenic Beauty and
Natural Monuments under the Law for the Protection of Cultural
Properties. Some elements in the core area are included in the National
Park and Quasi-national Parks under the Natural Park Law. Finally, some
parts of the buffer zone are protected by Forest Law and the Municipal
Ordinances for Conservation of Cultural Landscapes.