Category: World Heritage Sites

Nikko: Toshogu Shrine and more

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The small town of Nikko in Tochigi prefecture, a few hours north of Tokyo, is home to the lavishly-decorated Toshogu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the once-most powerful man in feudal Japan: Tokugawa Ieyasu. In addition, the surrounding area encompassing Nikko National Park is popular for spectacular autumn scenery in October.

Set in a serene cedar forest around 100 kilometers north of metropolitan Tokyo, Toshogu was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999 along with neighboring Rinnoji Temple and Futarasan Shrine.


Kyoto‘s Must-see World Heritage Sites

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Sixty nine years ago, Kyoto was identified by the United States as one of four A-bomb targets, along with Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura (part of present-day Kitakyushu). The then US Secretary of War Henry Stimson lobbied for the removal of Kyoto from the list, citing the city’s immense cultural significance. He also had a personal connection to the city, having reportedly been to Kyoto on honeymoon two decades prior. Kyoto was removed from the potential targets and the rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to the present day, the former imperial capital is home to roughly 2,000 Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Kyoto and neighboring Otsu and Uji cities host a high concentration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, collectively inscribed on the heritage list as the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto”. On a trip to Kyoto, it’s almost a given that an average visitor will check out at least one of these World Heritage Sites. After four visits to Kyoto, I only managed to see 7 out of 17 of these sites so far.


Grand Road Trip to the Grand Canyon

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The Plan

Seeing the Grand Canyon in Arizona wasn’t part of my plan when I went to California last February 2013 to be with my wife, who was on business trip at that time, on our wedding anniversary. On her insistence though, I drafted a plan for the roughly 750-mile (1,200-kilometer) drive from the Silicon Valley area to Arizona’s lone World Heritage Site. Fellow officemates who were also on business trip happily agreed to split the long drive with us. We would leave around midnight, a few hours after my arrival in the US. I would take the first shift behind the wheel – as I was still on Manila time – and exchange places with the rest of the group until we made it to Arizona.


Yosemite National Park

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2014 marks the 150th year of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant Act that set aside Yosemite Valley and neighboring Mariposa Grove for its preservation and subsequent enjoyment as public domain. It paved the way for the establishment of the national park system in the United States. Today, Yosemite National Park encompasses 3,026 square kilometers of vast wilderness and spectacular scenery in central California near its border with Nevada. It is known for its numerous waterfalls, towering granite cliffs, and giant sequoia trees.


World Heritage Sites

Fujisan, Japan

Yosemite National Park is a national park in eastern central California known for its grand waterfalls, impressive granite cliffs, towering sequoias, and vast wilderness. The bulk of visitors to Yosemite converge on Yosemite Valley, an 18 km2 glacier-carved valley where most of the park facilities and natural landmarks are located. On our visit to Yosemite last February 2013, we stopped at Tunnel View, a viewpoint at the end of Wawona Tunnel, where three of Yosemite’s prominent landmarks can be seen in one frame: El Capitan granite cliff on the left, Bridalveil Falls on the right, and Half Dome straight ahead in the center.