Intangible Cultural Properties of Japan

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Intangible Cultural Properties (無形文化財 mukei bunkazai?), as defined by the Japanese government's Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties (1950), are Cultural Properties[note 1] of high historical or artistic value such as drama, music, and craft techniques. The term refers exclusively to human skills possessed by individuals or groups which are indispensable to produce Cultural Properties.[1]

Items of particular importance can be designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties (重要無形文化財 jūyō mukei bunkazai?).[1] Recognition is also given to the owners of an item to encourage its transmission.[2] There are three types of recognition: individual recognition, collective recognition, and group recognition. Special grants of two million yen a year are given to individual holders (the so-called National Living Treasures[2]) to help protect their properties. The government also contributes part of the expenses incurred either by the holder of an Intangible Cultural Property during training of his successor, or by a recognized group for public performances.[2]

To promote the understanding, and therefore the transmission across generations, of Cultural Properties, exhibitions concerning them are organized. The government through the Japan Arts Council also holds training workshops and other activities to educate future generations of noh, bunraku, and kabuki personnel.[2]

Important Intangible Cultural Properties[edit]

Performance Traditions[edit]

Type Name Comments Registered Image
Gagaku Gagaku (雅楽?)[3][4] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 1955
Noh Kyōgen (狂言?)[5] 1967 Himeji-jo Takigi Nou 39 37.jpg
Noh Shite-kata (能シテ方?)[6] 1955
Noh Waki-kata (能ワキ方?)[7] 1994
Noh Nōgaku (能楽?)[8][9] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 1957 Noh3.jpg
Noh Hayashi-kata: kotsuzumi (能囃子方小鼓?)[10] 1998 Japanese small hand drum,kotsudumi,katori-city,japan.JPG
Noh Hayashi-kata: taiko (能囃子方太鼓?)[11] 1992 Taiko1.jpg
Noh Hayashi-kata: ōtsuzumi (能囃子方大鼓?)[12] 1998
Noh Hayashi-kata: fue (能囃子方笛?)[13] 2009 Nohkan.jpg
Bunraku Ningyō jōruri bunraku (人形浄瑠璃文楽?)[14][15] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 1955 Osonowiki.jpg
Bunraku Shamisen (人形浄瑠璃文楽三味線?)[16] 1985 Man playing shamisen.jpg
Bunraku Ningyō (人形浄瑠璃文楽人形?)[17] 1977 Bunraku doll in national theatre Osaka 1.JPG
Bunraku Tayū (人形浄瑠璃文楽太夫?)[18] 1971 Man playing shamisen.jpg
Kabuki Kabuki (歌舞伎?)[19][20] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 1965 Shibaraku, Kabukiza November 1895 production.jpg
Kabuki Nagauta (歌舞伎音楽長唄?)[21] 1998
Kabuki Hayashi (歌舞伎音楽囃子?)[22] 1998 Fumie Hihara, au shamisen (danse du Kabuki, musée Guimet).jpg
Kabuki Onnagata (歌舞伎女方?)[23] 1968 Torii Kiyohiro - Ichikawa Danjuro IV and Nakamura Tomijuro I.jpg
Kabuki Tachiyaku (歌舞伎立役?)[24] 1960
Kabuki Wakiyaku (歌舞伎脇役?)[25] 1997
Kumiodori Kumiodori (組踊?)[26][27] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 1972
Kumiodori Uta - sanshin (組踊音楽歌三線?)[28] 2005 Sanshin.jpg
Kumiodori Tachikata (組踊立方?)[29] 2006
Music Itchū-bushi (一中節?)[30] 1993
Music Itchū-bushi shamisen (一中節三味線?)[31] 2001
Music Itchū-bushi jōruri (一中節浄瑠璃?)[32] 1999
Music Ogie-bushi (荻江節?)[33] 1993
Music Katō-bushi (河東節?)[34] 1993
Music Katō-bushi shamisen (河東節三味線?)[35] 2009
Music Katō-bushi jōruri (河東節三味線?)[36] 1994
Music Gidayū-bushi (義太夫節?)[37] 1980
Music Gidayū-bushi shamisen (義太夫節三味線?)[38] 1998
Music Gidayū-bushi jōruri (義太夫節浄瑠璃?)[39] 1999
Music Miyazono-bushi (宮薗節?)[40] 1993
Music Miyazono-bushi jōruri (宮薗節浄瑠璃?)[41] 2007
Music Shakuhachi (尺八?)[42] 1982 Shakuhachi-2.png
Music Tokiwazu-bushi (常磐津節?)[43] 2007
Music Tokiwazu-bushi shamisen (常磐津節三味線?)[44] 1992
Music Tokiwazu-bushi jōruri (常磐津節浄瑠璃?)[45] 1995
Music Shinnai-bushi shamisen (新内節三味線?)[46] 2001
Music Shinnai-bushi jōruri (新内節浄瑠璃?)[47] 2001
Music Kiyomoto-bushi shamisen (清元節三味線?)[48] 2003
Music Kiyomoto-bushi jōruri (清元節浄瑠璃?)[49] 2003
Music Jiuta (地歌?)[50] 2009
Music Nagauta (長唄唄?)[51] 1974
Music Nagauta shamisen (長唄三味線?)[52] 1987
Music Nagauta narimono (長唄鳴物?)[53] 1993
Music Ryūkyūan classical music (琉球古典音楽?)[54] 2000
Music Sōkyoku (箏曲?)[55] 1993
Buyō Kabuki-buyō (歌舞伎舞踊?)[56] 1955 Eiko Hayashi, Nihon Buyô – danse du Kabuki (Musée Guimet) III.jpg
Buyō Ryūkyū-buyō (琉球舞踊?)[57] 2009
Entertainment Classic Rakugo (古典落語?)[58] 1995 Rakugo-sanmafestival.jpg
Entertainment Kōdan (講談?)[59] 2002

Crafts[edit]

Medium Name Comments Region Registered Image
Ceramics Bizen-yaki (備前焼?)[60][61][62][63] High-fired, unglazed stoneware; one of the six ancient kilns; production in and around Imbe village from the twelfth century Okayama Prefecture 2004 Sabukaze 05.JPG
Ceramics Hagi-yaki (萩焼?)[62][64][65][66] Ash-glazed; the clay of the tea bowls changes colour with time, known as the 'seven changes in Hagi' (萩の七化け); introduced by craftsmen from Korea after the Japanese invasions of the 1590s; production in Hagi from the beginning of the 17th century Yamaguchi Prefecture 1983 Hagi ware Japanese tea bowl, 18th-19th century, Freer Gallery of Art.jpg
Ceramics Hakuji (白磁?)[62][67] Undecorated white porcelain; influenced by Chinese examples; production began in the Arita area in the first half of the seventeenth century 1995
Ceramics Iro-e jiki (色絵磁器?)[62][68][69][70] Overglaze enamel porcelain; polychrome enamels applied to already glazed and fired wares; introduced from China; production began in the Arita area in the 1640s 1986
Ceramics Iro-Nabeshima (色鍋島?)[71][72] A type of iro-e overglaze enamel, often with a blue under-glaze; from the domain of the Nabeshima clan; production from the second half of the seventeenth century Saga Prefecture 1976 Plat Nabeshima aux trois hérons.jpg
Ceramics Kakiemon (nigoshide) (柿右衛門 (濁手)?)[62][72][73][74] A type of iro-e overglaze enamel; created by Sakaida Kakiemon in the 1640s; nigoshide, the white ground against which the enamels are applied, was revived by Sakaida Kakiemon XII in the 1950s Saga Prefecture 1971 Meissen hard porcelain vase 1735.jpg
Ceramics Mumyōi-yaki (無名異焼?)[75][76][77] Mumyōi is the red ferrous clay of Sado island; production in Aikawa from the early nineteenth century Niigata Prefecture 2003
Ceramics Onta-yaki (小鹿田焼?)[78][79][80] Thick slipware; production in Hita from the early eighteenth century; one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan Ōita Prefecture 1995 Ondayoshie.JPG
Ceramics Seto-guro (瀬戸黒?)[62][81][82] Black Seto; the colour is obtained by removing the glazed vessel from the kiln at the height of firing and cooling it rapidly; production in Mino Province from the late sixteenth century Gifu Prefecture
Ceramics Seiji (青磁?)[62][83] The pale-green colour of celadon is obtained from a feldspathic glaze and reduction firing; introduced from the continent 2007 Koryo Period Pressed Designs Bowl.jpg
Ceramics Shino (志野?)[62][84][85][86] Stoneware with a white feldspathic glaze; production in Mino Province from the late sixteenth century Gifu Prefecture 1994 Fushimi momoyaja jyou 23.jpg
Ceramics Tetsuyū-tōki (鉄釉陶器?)[87] Iron-glaze stoneware 2005
Ceramics Yūri-kinsai (釉裏金彩?)[62][88] Gold leaf or gold enamel is applied to a glazed surface which is then glazed and fired again, enhancing the durability of the decoration 2001
Textiles Ise-katagami (伊勢型紙?)[89] Paper stencils Mie Prefecture 1993 Dougubori.JPG
Textiles Kijōka-bashōfu (喜如嘉の芭蕉布?)[90][91] banana fibre cloth Okinawa Prefecture 1974 Musa basjooSochi1.JPG
Textiles Kumejima-tsumugi (久米島紬?)[92] pongee/kasuri Okinawa Prefecture 2004
Textiles Kurume-kasuri (久留米絣?)[93] Fukuoka Prefecture 1957
Textiles Miyako-jōfu (宮古上布?)[94] Okinawa Prefecture 1978
Textiles Tate-nishiki (経錦?)[91][95] Vertical brocade of ancient origin, revived by Kitamura Takeshi 2000
Textiles Yūki-tsumugi (結城紬?)[96][97] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010 1956
Textiles Kenjō Hakata weave (献上博多織?)[98] Fukuoka Prefecture 2003
Textiles Edo komon (江戸小紋?)[91][99] Edo fine pattern; stencil resist dyeing technique popular in the Edo period 1978 Edo komon.jpg
Textiles Bingata (紅型?)[91][100] Stencil or resist paste weave; in the eighteenth century its use by commoners was restricted Okinawa Prefecture 1996 Bingata.jpg
Textiles Saga-nishiki (佐賀錦?)[91][101] Brocade that developed in the early nineteenth century and was widespread by the early twentieth Saga Prefecture 1994 Saga nishiki 1.jpg
Textiles Embroidery (刺繍 Shishū?)[102] 1997 The embroidery of the festival car of the festival of Tochigi,tochigi-city,japan.JPG
Textiles Shuri weave (首里の織物?)[103] Okinawa Prefecture 1998
Textiles Ojiya-chijimi - Echigo-jōfu (小千谷縮・越後上布?)[104][105] Inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 Niigata Prefecture 1955
Textiles Seigō Sendai-hira (精好仙台平?)[106] Miyagi Prefecture 2002
Textiles Tsuzure weave (綴織?)[91][107] Tapestry weave introduced from China in the Nara period 1997
Textiles Tsumugi weave (紬織?)[91][108] Woven from hand-spun silk floss 1990
Textiles Bashōfu (芭蕉布?)[91][109] Bashō-fibre cloth Okinawa Prefecture 2000
Textiles Mokuhanzuri-sarasa (木版摺更紗?)[110] 2008
Textiles Monsha (紋紗?)[111][112] Figured gauze weave silk
Textiles Yūzen (友禅?)[91][113][114] Paste-resist dyeing; perfected around 1700 by Miyazaki Yūzen 1955
Textiles Yūsoku weave (有職織物?)[115] 1999
Textiles Ra (?)[91][116][117] A form of gauze weave; examples are found in the Shōsōin 1995
Lacquerware Chinkin (沈金?)[118][119][120][121] Incised and filled with gold leaf or powder applied over wet lacquer; popular in China from the Song dynasty and particularly associated with Wajima ware 1999 Chinkin-enlargement.jpg
Lacquerware Kinma (蒟醤?)[119][122][123] Incised and colour-filled; introduced from the continent, prized in the Muromachi period, and perfected around Takamatsu in the Edo period 1985
Lacquerware Kyūshitsu (髹漆?)[124][125] Sequential lacquering technique with four main phases: substrate, priming, intermediate coating, and top coating 1974
Lacquerware Maki-e (蒔絵?)[119][126][127] Sprinkled picture decoration using metallic powder or pigment; dates to the Heian period 1955 Makie-enlargement.jpg
Lacquerware Raden (螺鈿?)[119][128][129] Shell (Mother-of-pearl, abalone, nautilus) inlay 1999
Lacquerware Wajima-nuri (輪島塗?)[121][130][131] A mixture of burned diatomaceous earth, rice paste, and lacquer is used for the layers of undercoat; the earliest example, the doors of Juzo Jinja, date to 1524 Ishikawa Prefecture 1977 Wajimanurie.JPG
Metalwork Metal chasing (彫金 chōkin?)[132][133] Several engraving techniques have been practised since the dōtaku of the Yayoi period 1978 DotakuBronzeBellLateYayoi3rdCenturyCE.jpg
Metalwork Metal casting (鋳金 chūkin?)[134][135] Several casting techniques have been practised since the dōtaku of the Yayoi period, including lost-wax casting 1993 Kamakura Daibutsu Dec08-4.jpg
Metalwork Dora (銅鑼?)[136] Gongs 2002 元軍銅鑼.jpg
Metalwork Japanese swords (日本刀 Nihon-tō?)[137] 1955 Norishige.jpg
Metalwork Repoussé (鍛金 tankin?)[138][139] 1995
Metalwork Japanese sword polishing (刀剣研磨 Tōken-kenma?)[140] Seattle - Cherry Blossom Fest - sword 01.jpg
Woodworking Bamboo-work (竹工芸 ちくこうげい?)[141] 1982
Woodworking Wood-work (木工芸 もくこうげい?)[142] 1984
Dolls Ishō-ningyō (衣裳人形?)[143][144] Costume dolls, dressed in tailored clothing made from dyed and woven textiles 1986 Japanese traditional doll 20101105.jpg
Dolls Tōso-ningyō (桐塑人形?)[144][145] Paulownia sawdust, mixed with wheat starch and plum paste, is used to form a plaster for casting; once dry it is hard enough to be sculpted 2002
Washi Echizen-hōsho (越前奉書?)[146][147][148] High-quality paper, used for official orders since the Muromachi period; paper-making in the region is known from the Engishiki Fukui Prefecture 2000
Washi Hon-Minogami (本美濃紙?)[149][150] Mulberry paper from Mino Province; records in the Shōsō-in refer to three paper-making regions: Chikuzen Province, Buzen Province, and Mino Province Gifu Prefecture 1969
Washi Hosokawa-shi (細川紙?)[151] 1978
Washi Najio-ganpishi (名塩雁皮紙?)[152][153] Made from the ganpi plant Hyōgo Prefecture 2002
Washi Sekishū-banshi (石州半紙?)[154][155] The strongest paper produced in Japan; used for shōji, calligraphy, and conservation-restoration; inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009 Shimane Prefecture 1969
Washi Tosa-tengujōshi (土佐典具帖紙?)[156][157] A very-fine, strong paper developed around 1900 by Genta Yoshii Kōchi Prefecture 2001

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In this article, capitals indicate an official designation as opposed to a simple definition, e.g "Cultural Properties" as opposed to "cultural properties".

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties" (PDF). Administration of Cultural Affairs in Japan ― Fiscal 2009. Agency for Cultural Affairs. 2009. 
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