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Itsukushima in Setonaikai National Park, the first of Japan's National Parks (established 1934)

National Parks (国立公園, Kokuritsu Kōen) and Quasi-National Parks (国定公園, Kokutei Kōen) in Japan are places of scenic beauty designated for protection and sustainable usage by the Minister of the Environment under the Natural Parks Law (自然公園法) of 1957.[1] National Parks are designated and in principle managed by the Ministry of the Environment. Quasi-National Parks, of a slightly lesser beauty, size, diversity, or state of preservation, are recommended for ministerial designation and managed by the Prefectures under the supervision of the Ministry.[2]



Japan established its first kōen (公園) or public parks in 1873 (Asakusa Park, Asukayama Park, Fukagawa Park, Shiba Park, and Ueno Park). In 1911 local citizens petitioned that the shrines and forests of Nikkō be placed under public protection. In 1929 the National Parks Association was formed. In 1931 the first National Parks Law (国立公園法) was passed. After much study and survey, in March 1934 the first parks were established — Setonaikai, Unzen and Kirishima — with five more in December and a further four two years later. Three further parks were established under the old National Parks Law, in colonial Taiwan in 1937: the Tatun National Park (the smallest in Japan); Tsugitaka-Taroko National Park, (the largest); and Niitaka-Arisan National Park (with the highest mountain in then Japan).[3]

Ise-Shima was the first to be created after the war, and a further seven had been added by 1955.

In 1957 the Natural Parks Law replaced the earlier National Parks Law, allowing for three categories: the National, Quasi-National, and Prefectural Natural Parks. With minor amendments this established the framework that operates today.[4][5]

As of 1 April 2014, there were 31 National Parks and 56 Quasi-National Parks, with the National Parks covering 20,996 km² (5.6% of the land area) and the Quasi-National Parks 13,592 km² (3.6% of the land area). In addition, there were 314 Prefectural Parks covering 19,726 km² (5.2% of the land area).[6] On 27 March 2015, the 32nd National Park was established, Myōkō-Togakushi Renzan National Park,[7] on 15 September 2016, the 33rd, Yanbaru National Park, and on 7 March 2017, the 34th, Amami Guntō National Park, subsuming Amami Guntō Quasi-National Park.[8][9] On 25 March 2016, a further Quasi-National Park was established, Kyoto Tamba Kogen Quasi-National Park.[10]

Protection statusEdit

The area of each National and Quasi-National Park is divided into ordinary, special and marine park zones. Special zones are further subdivided into special protection and class I, II, and III special zones, restricting access and use for preservation purposes. The state owns only approximately half of the land in the parks.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Natural Parks Act (1957)" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Natural Park Systems in Japan" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. pp. 4, 12. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  3. ^ Kanda Koji. "Landscapes of National Parks in Taiwan During the Japanese Colonial Period" (PDF). Osaka City University. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  4. ^ Sutherland, Mary; Britton, Dorothy (1995). National Parks of Japan. Kodansha. pp. 6f. ISBN 4-7700-1971-8.
  5. ^ "Natural Park Systems in Japan" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. pp. 1f. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  6. ^ "Summary table of area figures for Natural Parks" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Birth of Myoko Togakushi Renzan National Park". Ministry of the Environment. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  8. ^ やんばる国立公園について [About Yanbaru National Park - Summary] (in Japanese). Ministry of the Environment. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  9. ^ 奄美群島国立公園(仮称)の指定及び公園計画の決定等に関する意見の募集について [Consultation about the Establishment of Amami Guntō National Park] (in Japanese). Ministry of the Environment. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  10. ^ "京都丹波高原国定公園の指定日について" (in Japanese). Ministry of the Environment. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Natural Park Systems in Japan" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. pp. 2f. Retrieved 1 February 2012.

External linksEdit