Japan’s 9 GGN/ APGN Geoparks are:
- Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano
- Itoigawa Geopark The Itoigawa Global Geopark is located at the western edge of Niigata Prefecture along the Sea of Japan. From the 500 million year old jade of the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge to 3,000 year old Mt. Yakeyama, Itoigawa’s geology has an extremely long and varied history. This, coupled with impressive topological variance ranging in elevation from 0m at the coast to 2,766m at the highest peak, makes Itoigawa a geological and natural paradise. The geopark also boasts the oldest jadeite culture in the world and a number of historical and cultural treasures including the ancient Salt Road, which runs along a fault line. These cultural properties offer an excellent example of how the land shapes the cultures and histories of mankind.
Itoigawa Global Geopark lies at the western edge of the Fossa Magna, a geological trench which crosses the Japanese archipelago. This western edge is delineated by the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line which splits the Japanese archipelago between two continental plates. In order to easily introduce these and other features to visitors, the Geopark is divided into 24 distinctly-themed “Geosites”. These Geosites provide visitors with easy-to-understand yet surprisingly in-depth information about the birth of the Japanese Archipelago, the development of jade culture in Japan, and the many ways in which our human race is intricately connected to our planet.
- The San’in Kaigan Geopark possesses valuable and beautiful geological and topographical formations such as various rocks, strata, coastal landforms, inland waterfalls and gorges. The Genbudo Cave, located in the Maruyamagawa River Geoarea is the location where the Quaternary geomagnetic reversal polarity theory was first proposed to the world, tthe basalt at Genbudo Cave, formed from volcanic activities approximately 1.6 million years ago, had a remnant reverse magnetization. The terrestrial reverse magnetic polarity was one of the bases for the seafloor expansion hypothesis and contributed to the plate tectonics theory. There are still a lot of internationally valuable landforms and geological heritage sites like Genbudo Cave in the San’in Kaigan Geopark.
- The Muroto Geopark is located in the southwestern part of the Japanese island arc in the eastern segment of the Eurasian Continent. Among the several islands comprising the Japanese Archipelago, Shikoku is the 4th largest island with an area of approximately 18,800 km2. At the southeastern tip of the island, the Muroto Peninsula juts out into the Pacific Ocean, which is the location of this proposed geopark. Muroto Geopark encompasses the entire administrative district of Muroto city, Kochi prefecture2. The geopark covers an area of 248.3 km2, mountainous areas cover 87% of the Muroto Peninsula, and the mountain range at the northern margin of the Muroto city is nearly 1000 m high. The steep landforms developed in this coastal area indicate that abrupt land upheavals have taken place in the past. The east and west side of the cape possess different topographical features. The east coast consists of a steep fault scarp plunging into the deep ocean. On the west coast, marine terraces have developed. Flat areas only account for 13% of the land. The narrow flatland lying between the coast and the mountains is where life and local economic activities take place.
- Unzen Volcanic Area – Unzen Volcanic Area Geopark is located in the southern region of Kyushu’s Nagasaki Prefecture on the western end of Japan. The Geopark is limited by the administrative district of the three cities (Shimabara, Unzen and Minamishimabara), almost the same area as the Shimabara Peninsula. The area is located approximately 900km, or four hours by air and bus, from Tokyo, and approximately 100km, or three hours by car, from Kyushu’s largest city, Fukuoka. Unzen Geopark website
- Aso Geopark
- Oki Islands Geopark
- Mount Apoi Geopark
- Izu Peninsula Geopark, is located in the southeast of Honshu Island. It is a unique meeting place of two active volcanic arcs and various and ongoing phenomena linked to tectonic plate collision. The area’s uninterrupted volcanic history over the past 20 million years is unmatched anywhere. Geothermal activity has also endowed this area with some of Japan’s most famous hot springs. Izu has witnessed many natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis, which have contributed to local beliefs as communities began to worship deities that were supposed to rule over natural forces and built over 90 shrines scattered across the Geopark.