Photo/IllutrationThe Hikari No. 1 bullet train at Tokyo Station when the Tokaido Shinkansen Line opened in 1964 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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The Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train, the landscape in northwestern Kyushu that produced celebrated Arita ceramic ware and even the white walls of a complex of traditional sake breweries are among 20 symbols chosen to represent Japan's 20th century cultural heritage and technological advancement.

Other areas associated with Japanese achievement on the diverse list announced Dec. 8 by the Japan ICOMOS National Committee include the Seto Ohashi bridge spanning the main islands of Honshu and Shikoku, a series of layered erosion protection barriers in the Tateyama Mountain Area in Toyama Prefecture facing the Sea of Japan and the sprawling and scenic Koiwai Farm at the foot of Mount Iwate in Iwate Prefecture.

The aim is to celebrate and preserve strides made by Japan in the 20th century that might otherwise be overlooked when assessing Japan's cultural heritage.

The Tokaido Shikansen Line, which opened in 1964 as the nation’s first high-speed mass transportation rail system linking Tokyo with Osaka, was chosen as representing Japan's advanced technological prowess, as was the Seto Ohashi bridge spanning five small islets in the Seto Inland Sea that covers 9.4 kilometers and is among the world's longest two-tiered bridge system.

The list attempted to deflect criticism that most of Japan's registrations of World Cultural Heritage sites dating to the 20th century are buildings.

Just as important, experts say, are other aspects of Japan, such as industrial and cultural architecture developed in the 20th century.

The list does include buildings, but sites such as the Koiwai Farm and a group of power stations in the riverine system originating from the Kurobegawa river in Toyama Prefecture illustrate that the selection covers a wide variety of fields.

The criteria for the list was that the sites or symbols of the age emerged for the first time, or were developed or evolved in the 20th century or symbolized historical events during the period.

The Japan ICOMOS National Committee is one of 110 national committees of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which, as advisory panel, is involved in the selection of UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage sites.

“It does not mean that everything on the list will be recommended for registration of World Cultural Heritage sites immediately,” said Yoshiyuki Yamana, a professor of urban planning at Tokyo University of Science. “But they have the potential to make it to the World Cultural Heritage registration in the future.”

Similar efforts are under way by the ICOMOS national committees of about 30 countries, according to Japanese officials.