Railroad Assets in Gunma Pref. Aim for World Heritage Status; Megane-Bashi Bridge Included in Proposal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A brick viaduct built in 1892, commonly known as Megane-bashi bridge, is seen in Annaka, Gunma Prefecture, on Dec. 21.

ANNAKA, Gunma — The Annaka city government in Gunma Prefecture, a home to the remains of historical railroad assets, is preparing to bid for UNESCO world cultural heritage status. The city announced on Dec. 22 its intention to apply for the registration of these assets, located in and around the Usui Pass, as a world cultural heritage site. These include the Usui 3rd Bridge, commonly known as Megane-bashi bridge, which was once part of the old JR Shinetsu Line.

The city intends to allocate related funds to the draft budget for fiscal 2024, aiming to start full-scale research and surveys. Although the city had been working to include these assets in the World Heritage list of the Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites, it scrapped the idea because clarifying the relationship between the railroad assets and the silk industry was difficult.

In November, the city established an expert committee consisting of six specialists and decided to pursue registering the assets as a group of railroad facilities. The committee will now consider how to demonstrate outstanding universal value, a criterion required for registration as a World Heritage site.

“We’d like to convey the charm of the Usui Pass and its assets to the world and make progress toward registration step by step,” said Annaka Mayor Hitoshi Iwai.