Participatory conservation of pilgrimage paths

Published: 04 October 2020
Last edited: 06 May 2021

Depending on their location, pilgrimage routes are owned by individuals, local or national governments who take care of their maintenance. Local inhabitants and Non-Profit Organizations (NPO) participate as well of the restoration, conservation and maintenance of some of the pilgrimage routes. For example, many preservation societies are active on the Iseji pilgrimage route where they conduct daily cleaning activities on the mountain passes where old roads remain. They also collaborate with patrolling after typhoons and heavy rains. These activities are recorded in the report and submitted to the respective Prefectural Board of Education via the respective Municipal Board of Education.


Communication, outreach and awareness building
Enforcement and prosecution
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

  • Japanese culture emphasizes on the caring for the public space and the benefit of the community as a whole, as well as supports a strong identification with and caring for the environment. 
  • Support from the government and other agencies to facilitate citizen participation in volunteering activities, such as collection and distribution of donations.

Lessons learned

  • The government will cooperate with citizens who initiate volunteer activities.
  • In the World Heritage property, some of the activities need a  permission. This is something that needs to be confirmed in advance by the volunteers and the government.

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