The Kumano Sanzan is in the middle of the five pilgrimage areas designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2004 on the Kii Peninsula. It is a unique peninsular area encompassed by rugged mountains. The Chinese characters, 三(san) 山 (zan) is literally speaking, "three mountains." The three mountains which are set like jewels among the southern peaks of the Kii Mountains have been sacred areas in Japan from time immemorial. It is said that the Japanese gods of creationist mythology came here to create the Japanese islands from cosmic morass.