Although climate change is well recognised as an important issue in Japan, there has been little interest from scientists or the public on the potential threat it poses to heritage. The present study maps the impact of emerging pressures on museums and historic buildings in the Tokyo Area. We examine a context to the threat in terms of fluctuating levels of visitors as a response to environmental issues, from SARS and COVID-19, through to earthquakes. GIS mapping allows a range of natural and human-induced hazards to be expressed as the spatial spread of risk. Temperature is increasing and Tokyo has a heat island which makes the city hotter than its surroundings. This adds to the effects of climate change. Temperature increases and a decline in relative humidity alter the potential for mould growth and change insect life cycles. The region is vulnerable to sea level rise, but flooding is also a likely outcome of increasingly intense falls of rain, especially during typhoons. Reclamation has raised the risk of liquefaction during earthquakes that are relatively frequent in Japan. Earthquakes cause structural damage and fires after the rupture of gas pipelines and collapse of electricity pylons. Fires from lightning strikes might also increase in a future Tokyo. These are especially relevant, as many Japanese heritage sites use wood for building materials. In parallel, more natural landscapes of the region are also affected by a changing climate. The shifting seasons already mean the earlier arrival of the cherry blossom and a later arrival of autumn colours and a lack of winter snow. The mapping exercise should highlight the spatial distribution of risk and the way it is likely to change, so it can contribute to longer term heritage management plans.
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