Edited by Ross Dowling and David Newsome
Chapter 26: Geotourism in Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark, Japan
Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark covers the entire area of Itoigawa, a city of approximately 44,000 people located in south-western Niigata Prefecture on the island of Honshu, Japan. In 2009, the region was certified, along with two other regions, as the first Global Geopark in Japan. The Geopark is located in a belt of geological activity represented by the Fossa Magna (an enormous geological feature that cuts across the Japanese archipelago) and the Itoigawa–Shizuoka Tectonic Line (a massive fault which forms the boundary between the North American and Eurasian continental plates). It contains the largest confirmed deposits of jade in Japan. The geopark showcases the strong connection between the people that live here, and exists on the boundary between Japan’s east and west cultures. It is divided into 24 distinct geological and geographical regions called ‘geosites’, each with its own theme and story, and each containing several points of interest. They were selected to showcase the geological variety of the geopark and are located in the mountains and along the coasts near residential areas in order to help local residents become more involved in regional promotion.
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