The next generation of technological innovation is born from carrying forward history and culture. - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution open the way to "conserving while using"

Executive Director of Kogakuin University

Dr.Osamu Goto
Dr.Osamu Goto
  • Looking back on his years at the Cultural Agency and instituting the system for “registered tangible cultural properties (structures).”

Q: I was in charge of planning and editing Ms. Kato’s Sangyo isan. While working on the project, I also felt, “The contents of this book are well ahead of the times.” Frankly, I had my doubts and concerns and was asking myself, “Can we really expect society to understand and appreciate the concept of industrial heritage?” The fact of the matter is that it took quite a bit of effort to get the publisher onboard. (Laugh)

At the time, there was considerable resistance to designating anything that was modern as a cultural property. The difficulties were further compounded when it came to “industrial heritage.” There was even a sense that “modern industries were the culprits in destroying traditional culture.” (Laugh)

Q: I have heard that those were very mainstream sentiments even within the Cultural Agency at the time. That leads me to think that you were in charge of modern cultural properties as a member of the “counterculture in cultural properties administration.” As a university student, had you already chosen modern architecture and structures as your area of specialty?

No, not at all. As a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, I too was totally engrossed in the study of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples of antiquity. (Laugh) Before joining the Cultural Agency, I remember telling my mentor, the late Professor Naomi Okawa, “The future of this field [conservation of cultural properties] belongs to the conservation of modern cultural properties and international cooperation. Wouldn’t it be better for you to find a student other than me who has those interests?” This is what he told me in response. “Once you are in the field, you can work on those pursuits.” Ironically, that is exactly what happened when I was hired by the Cultural Agency. I was assigned to the conservation of modern cultural properties.

When I joined the Cultural Agency, the primary focus was on the preservation of Tokyo Station and the Bankers Club in Marunouchi. Ultimately, the Bankers Club was replaced by a skyscraper. All that was saved was a portion of the façade (external wall at the front of the building) to convey an image of the original brick structure. As someone specializing in this field, this was a very unfortunate outcome. With regard to Tokyo Station, at the time, there was no social consensus on the significance of designating a modern structure as a cultural property.

Q: Today, Tokyo Station has been restored to its original glory and stands proudly as a new symbol for Tokyo. It has also become a very popular tourist site. Probably this is an indication of the changes that have occurred in society over the past twenty years. Society has adopted a different perspective on the significance of “modern cultural heritages.” Important changes have also occurred in the conservation of cultural properties.

I observed first-hand how my seniors at the Cultural Agency were struggling with the conservation of Tokyo Station and the Bankers Club. This generated a very strong awareness within me. As I worked to promote policies and measures for the preservation of modern cultural properties, I was constantly asking myself, “What do we have to do to encourage companies to preserve cultural properties in the context of their social and economic activities.” Just about the same time that Ms. Kato came to us with her project, I was working on the designation of the Meiji Life Insurance Building in Marunouchi and the Mitsui Honkan headquarters in Nihonbashi as important cultural properties. In both instances, designation went through successfully. At the same time, I was working on the designation of government structures as important cultural properties, which included the designation of the main building of the Ministry of Justice. There were some other ongoing projects that I was not directly involved in, such as the designation of the present-day Nihonbashi Bridge that had been reconstructed in the Meiji Era. In other words, I was engaged in the designation of “operational heritages” that remained in current use.

Q: This puts these structures in the same category of “operational heritages” as the sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution.

Indeed, there are many points in common. “Conserving while using” is by no means impossible. On the other hand, in many respects, these conservation projects do not conform to Japan’s traditional conservation methods and approaches. The question is how to reconcile the two. What I was doing in my years with the Cultural Agency was to develop a new framework and new approaches for the conservation of cultural properties.

Q: Even after you became a professor at Kogakuin University, you continued to interact with Ms. Kato as researchers in a mentor-mentee relationship. I understand that you continued to exchange information throughout those years.

Yes, that is right. For example, there is an old merchant house in Takahashi City in Okayama Prefecture. This is the Nishie Residence located in the Nariwa-cho district of the city. For many generations, this wealthy family was involved in the production of roha used in the manufacture of red-ocher rouge. The Nishie family continues to live in this house. The question was how to preserve this house. Ms. Kato brought this case to me, and I consulted with her on this project. During my years with the Cultural Agency, I had worked to create a registration system. Now in the private sector, I was in a position to utilize the system that I had created. So, we consulted on how to apply the registration system to the Nishie Residence. In this way, Ms. Kato and I worked on individual conservation projects. I have remained in touch with the Nishie family throughout the years.

Q: You were instrumental in establishing the registration system for tangible cultural properties. How far has this system spread?

The system was launched in 1996 and the number of registered properties now exceeds 10,000. At the start, we were aiming to register 500 cultural properties per year. So, the system has been expanding at more or less the pace that we initially planned. It is true that many challenges remain. I hope that various improvements can be made as the system continues to develop.

Q: What are some of the challenges for the future?

Basically, the system has two salient features. On one hand, restrictions are not enforced. On the other, relatively little public support is provided. This differs fundamentally from the conservation of national treasures and important cultural properties where the national government plays an active role in preservation through enforcement of strict restrictions and regulations. The focus of the cultural properties registration system is placed elsewhere. The idea is to allow local communities and municipalities to utilize properties that have been registered with the government in promoting their own community development projects. That is how the system has been designed. The ideal is to develop the registration system so that greater government support flows to those areas that are making the best use of their registered cultural properties. We still have a long way to go, but I believe that industrial heritage sites are particularly suited to use in promoting local and regional development. In 2008, I published a book entitled Toshi no kioku wo ushinau maeni [Before the memory of cities is lost] (Hakuyosha Shinsho). In this book, I cited many cases and concrete methods. My focus was not so much on industrial heritage sites, but instead on the various types of structures that remain standing in our cities. I hope this book will serve as a reference for those interested in preserving these types of cultural properties.

Living now for the future of Japan: The mission of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to raise awareness and courage that "Japan can be saved if we make use of the spirit of our predecessors."

Former General Manager, Nagasaki Shipyard and Machinery Works, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.

Dr. Kunifumi Hashimoto
Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage is the Pride of Japan - Knowing the Steps of Our Predecessors is the Key to Reconsidering Japanese Education

Chairman, Fujisankei Group

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Television Network, Inc.

Executive Managing Advisor, Fuji Media Holdings, Inc.

Mr, Hisashi Hieda
The Road to World Heritage Registration was Full of its Ups and Downs ~Blessed, Saved and Paved by the Luck of Human Fate~

Advisor, Federation of Japan Port and Airport Construction Association

(Ex. Chairman of Specialists Center of Port and Airport Engineering)

Mr. Hiroshi Hayashida
The historical flow of change from "Samurai to the Company" is the pride of Japan - Nagasaki, the center of Japan's Meiji Industrial Heritage Sites, will lead the way to connect to the next generation.

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr. Shiro Suzuki
The Saga Clan Built Japan's First Reverberatory Furnace, and the "Mietsu Naval Station" was the Base of the Western-style Navy: Passing on the Passion That Went Into Registering the Site as a World Heritage Site to the Next Generation

Former Director of the Sano Tsunetami Memorial Museum (currently known as Sano Tsunetami and the Mietsu Naval Dock History Museum)

Mr. Yoshimi Eguchi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a "World Cultural Heritage" and a "World Evolutionary Heritage

Director of NPO Association for Thinking about Satoyama

Director of National Congress of the Industrial Heritage

Mr. Kenji Amioka
Shoin Shrine has a mission to convey the history leading up to the Meiji Restoration properly

Honorary Chief Priest Toshinari Ueda

Mr. Toshinari Ueda
What is the secret plan to make the Port of Miike, an operational asset of a World Heritage site?

Former Mayor of Omuta City

Mr. Michio Koga
Vol. 49
Why Conservation Management of Japan's Meiji Industrial Sites is needed?

Archaeologist and Heritage Conservation Specialist

Dr. Michael Pearson AO
The Truth of Industrial History Unraveled from the Perspective of Metallurgy: the Mission of the Heritage of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is to Pass on the Intelligence, Diligence, and Fortitude of the Japanese People to Future Generations

A fellow of the Japan Federation of Engineering Societies

Professor Tadahiro Inazumi
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution is a Great Teaching Aid, and Various World Revealed by Looking Into It

Team Member of the Industrial Project Team Office for the Promotion of World Heritage Listing under Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kazuhiko Suga
The History of Iron that Began in Kagoshima has Dramatically Advanced Japan's Modernization~I Want to Pass on the Vitality of the People of Satsuma to the Younger Generations Whom Will Live in the Future~

Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture

Koichi Shiota
Yoshida Shoin preached the Theory of Engineering Education and produced the Choshu Five who risked their lives to go to England--to pass on the proud Hagi spirit to future generations

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Fumio Tanaka
I wish to pass on to my children's generation the wisdom, technology, and energy of our ancestors who built Misumi West Port - I will do my very best to do what I can at this moment by looking ahead to the future that will surely come after COVID-19.

Mayor of Uki City, Kumamoto Prefecture

Mr. Kenshi Morita
Vol. 43
An Imperial Company named the Yawata Steel Works became a World Heritage Site from a Single Old Photo!

The Former Employee of Nippon Steel Corporation

Mr. Masayoshi Minakuchi
We would like to Establish a "New Local Studies" that will be transmitted to the Outside World.

An Associate Professor of the Faculty of Science and Engineering in Iwate University

Mr. Hideki Onodera
18 Years History of a Tourist Guide Business and an Outpouring of "Love for Misumi West Port." ~"Registration for World Heritage is Not Simply a Goal, but a New Starting Point."~

Chairman of the Tourist Guide Association of Misumi West Port

Mr. Manpo Saito
To Mark the Passage of "Time" Together with Nirayama Reverberatory Furnace ~To increase the attractiveness of "reverberatory furnace tourism" through the use of commercial museum and restaurant business~

President of Kuraya Narusawa Co., Ltd.

Chairman of Izunokuni City Tourism Association

Mr. Hironori Inamura
The Establishment of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum Were Led by Fate: I want to start, continue, and finish what I can do to convey the value of the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution to a wide audience

Director and General Manager of Gunkanjima Concierge

Producer of the Gunkanjima Digital Museum

Ms. Yuko Kuon
In Industrial Heritage, It's the "People" Who Play the Central Role: How World Heritage Inscription Casts a Fresh Light on Hometown Splendors

Owner at Tōge Chaya

Ms. Shizuko Ogasawara
Everything is for the Economic Development of Nagasaki--Expanding Beyond the Shipping Business to Pass on Nagasaki's Culture and Industrial Heritage

Chairman: Mr. Hidenori Date
President: Mr. Masahiro Date

Yamasa Kaiun Co., Ltd.
Kamaishi's "Miracles" and Overcoming Disaster: The Huge Opportunity Provided by World Heritage Site Inscription

Proprietor, Houraikan Inn

Ms. Akiko Iwasaki
"850 years of historical records" along with Nirayama reverberatory furnace that ought to be passed down to future generations. ~The long-awaited new storage warehouse is completed and it has encouraged preservation, restoration, and utilization~

Representative Director of Egawa Bunko non-profit incorporated foundation

The 42nd head of the Egawa Family

Mr. Hiroshi Egawa
The History of an Era Opened by an Indomitable Pioneering Spirit and the Power of Our Forefathers

Democratic Party for the People (DPP) Representative for Nagasaki Prefecture

Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki
Gunkanjima Is a Warning Message for the Future of Earth and Humanity ~The Thoughts and Pleas of a Guide and Former Resident~

President of the NPO, Way to World Heritage Gunkanjima

Mr. Dotoku Sakamoto
Synchronicity Yields the Miracle of World Heritage Site Inscription: Strong Aspirations Inspire Support among Like-Minded Individuals

Representative Director

MI Consulting Group

Mr. Fumio Ohue
Power to the People of Japan The Mission of Meiji Japan's Industrial Revolutionary Heritage

President of Watanabe Production Group and Honorary Chair of Watanabe Productions Co., Ltd.

Ms. Misa Watanabe
Turning Our Industrial Heritage into Hope for Those 100 Years From Now

Member of the House of Councillors

Mr.Tatsuo Hirano
Calling on 21st Century Satsuma Students to Build the Future! Shuseikan Serves as a Source of Information about Sightseeing in Kagoshima

Kagoshima Prefecture

Mr. Satoshi Mitazono
Awareness of "Stories with Connections" is steadily spreading throughout each region~There are also challenges for conservation management and interpretation~

World Heritage Consultant

Ms. Sarah Jane Brazil
Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way: Connecting with People Takes Courage and Initiative

Director and Dean, The Kyushu-Asia Institute of Leadership
Representative Director, SUMIDA, Inc.

Mr. Koichi Hashida
Taking Pride in Japan's Latest World Heritage Sites~A Journalist's Perspective~

Journalist, founder of the Shimomura Mitsuko Ikikata Juku School

Ms. Mitsuko Shimomura
Classic Cars and the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution~Rally Nippon 2019 in Kyushu~

Representative, Rally Nippon

Mr.Yusuke Kobayashi
Preparations Proceed for the Development of Exciting Touring Routes to See the World Heritage Sites - The Promotion Council Conveys their Attractions to the World through Various Promotions!

Chairman, Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution World Heritage Route Promotion Council Director, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Susumu Ishihara
Giving Greater Force to the Preparation of Routes toward Promoting "Heritage Tourism" - Recollections of the Unforgettable Bombing of Hometown Kure City and the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb

Representative Director, General Incorporated Foundation National Congress of Industrial Heritage (Advisor, Public Interest Incorporated Foundation Capital Markets Research Institute)

Mr. Hiroshi Yasuda
The City Connected to the World: Making the "Treasure of Nagasaki" the "Treasure of the World"

Mayor of Nagasaki City

Mr.Tomihisa Taue
"The World's Experimental Facility" that Questions of the True Value of the "ICOMOS-TICCIH Cooperative Principles" New Conservation Challenges Promoted by the Japanese Government

Policy Director at Heritage Montreal

Mr. Dinu Bumbaru
Days of Heated Argument with the Unforgettable Stuart Smith~A Cross-Cultural Encounter with Familiar 19th-Century Industrial Heritage~

World Heritage Consultant

Mr. Barry Gamble
The next generation of technological innovation is born from carrying forward history and culture. - Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution open the way to "conserving while using"

Executive Director of Kogakuin University

Dr.Osamu Goto
Blazing a New Trail for Serial Inscription-Format Conservation and Management with the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: Training Personnel to Pass on Memory and Understanding as a Major Challenge in the Future

Heritage Architect and International Consultant

Mr. Duncan Marshall
3D Digital Documentation of the Giant Cantilever Crane and Kosuge Dock

Head of Data Acquisition at The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation

Mr. Alastair Rawlinson
Japan's Uplifting Industrial Heritage

Head of Industrial Heritage, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Miles Oglethorpe
The Scottish Ten Project

Scottish Ten Project Manager, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh

Dr. Lyn Wilson
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Ms.Toshiko Ono
Path to becoming a World Heritage Site

Pro-Provost and Chairman of Council of the Royal College of Art. Heritage advisor of Canal & River Trust for England and Wales.

Sir Neil Cossons
In the midst of accurate information dissemination, it created a chance to truly look at history

Dean of Tokyo Rissho Junior College

Professor emeritus of Keio University

Dr. Kudo Norikazu
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Mayor of Kitakyushu City

Mr. Kenji Kitahashi
World Heritage Inscription: Report on the 2015 Celebratory Party Held in Bonn, Germany

At the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee convened in Bonn, Germany, from June 28 to July 8, 2015, the decision was approved to inscribe the Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution on the World Heritage list.

At a celebratory party held to mark the occasion, some of the primary promoters of the project spoke of their joy in achieving their goal and of the trials and tribulations to getting there.

Background of World Heritage Inscription
Conserve and Use: Pioneering New Approaches for Operational Heritage Assets

Director and Managing Executive Officer, Hanshin Expressway Company Limited

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage

Mr. Hiroshi Okamoto
Applying Port and Harbor Act Provisions to Conserve Operating World Heritage Sites

Vice-Governor of Shizuoka Prefecture

Mr. Takashi Namba
The Choshu Five: Pioneers of Modernization and Hagi's Heritage of Trial and Error

Mayor of Hagi City

Mr. Koji Nomura
The Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution: The Roots of Japanese Craftsmanship and Industry

Chairman, Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd.

Mr.Masafumi Yasutomi
The Miike Area: How Coal Contributed to Japan's Modern Industrialization

Mayor of Omuta City

Mr.Michio Koga
The Meiji Industrial Revolution: A Story of Broad Vision and a Strong Sense of Mission to Undertake New Challenges for the Good of the Nation and its People

Deputy Director-General, Lifelong Learning Policy Bureau, MEXT

Former Counsellor, Cabinet Secretariat

Mr. Kengo Iwamoto
From Kamaishi to Yawata: The Proud Heritage of Japan's Modern Iron Industry

Mayor of Kamaishi City

Mr.Takenori Noda
Lord Nariakira Shimadzu's Shuseikan and the Efforts to Build a Strong and Affluent Nation

Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Industrial Heritage Counselor, Shimadzu Limited

Mr.Kimiyasu Shimadzu
The Genesis of Japan's Rise as an Industrial Nation: Preserving the Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution for Future Generations

Chairman of the Consortium for the World Heritage Inscription of Modern Industrial Heritage (Kyushu-Yamaguchi) and governor of Kagoshima Prefecture (as of 2015)

Mr.Yuichiro Ito