Concern Over Gender Discrimination Surrounds Proposed UNESCO Heritage Site

May 1, 2004

Source: The Japan Times

On May 1, 2004 The Japan Times reported, "The government's bid to have a sacred area in western Japan registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site is being challenged by those who claim it reinforces gender discrimination. A sign next to one of the four 'kekkai mon' gates that lead to Ominesanji Temple explains in English and Japanese that women are not allowed to enter. Kiisanchi no Reijo to Sankeimichi (Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range and Surrounding Cultural Landscapes) has been proposed by the government to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a candidate heritage site. The area encompasses the holy sites of Yoshino-Omine, Kumanosanzan and Mount Koya, and straddles Nara, Wakayama and Mie prefectures. If all goes as planned, the site will be listed at the World Heritage Committee meeting in China in June. Since ancient times, the site has been sacred both for Shinto and its nature worship, for Buddhism and for Shukendo, a religion that evolved from both Shinto and Buddhism."