Shifting borders of memory: Japan’s Industrial Heritage Information Centre

Edward Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This article examines the borders of memory inherent to a Japanese World Heritage site, and their significance for the 2020 opening of the Industrial Heritage Information Center in Tokyo. The Center was constructed to disseminate information regarding the widely dispersed “Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution”, which was recognized as a “serial site” by UNESCO in 2015. As with the original nomination, the opening of this Centre resulted in stringent protests from South Korea, who sought to have UNESCO consider revoking its original listing of these 23 Industrial Sites as collectively constituting the heritage of the world. This Center materializes a “border of memory” between Japan and South Korea that is the outcome of the displacement and re-siting of the heritage associated with Japan's Meiji Industrial Sites. Design/methodology/approach: Research material is derived from nomination documents, site visits, and newspaper reports in order to contextualize and analyse the disputes associated with this particular World Heritage nomination. Findings: The paper points to how the borders of memory present at heritage sites may shift through contestation. Efforts to fix the meaning of heritage find themselves subverted by connections across such borders of memory. Originality/value: The paper traces the process by which the geographically-dispersed “Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution” have been collectivized through UNESCO's recognition into a single “border of memory” between Japan and Korea, one which the Information Center subsequently succeeded in materializing and reproducing within Japan's national capital.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Conservation
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Urban Studies


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