The 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 On December 9, 2016 the 11th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties washeld on the topic titled “Intangible cultural heritages and disaster prevention—risk management andrecovery support.”The meeting featured four presenters and two commentators for a day of reports anddiscussion.
 The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and numerous smaller natural disasters in recent years have brought crisis to intangible cultural heritages, leaving many vulnerable to total demise. Significant physical and societal devastation occurs throughout Japan due to earthquakes, tsunamis, torrential rains, and other extremes of nature. While awareness is growing toward safeguarding cultural properties from disasters, little thought has been given to intangible cultural heritages. At this conference, many issues were raised regarding this situation and measures being taken were shared. Discussions arose regarding what kind of preparations are needed to safeguard intangible cultural heritages from natural disaster and what kind of support could be given after such an occurrence.
 The first report was from Iwate Prefecture, which presented findings on the current state of harm to intangible cultural heritages resulting from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ongoing recovery process. The second report was from Ehime Prefecture, which presented a survey of the region’s history of damage due to past Nankai Trough earthquakes and the building of a disaster prevention and mitigation system network. This was followed by a report on the replication of Buddhist statues as a means of preventing the theft of cultural properties.
 Finally, there was a report on how to keep the necessary records for the repair and restoration of festival implements. In the general discussion that followed, comments were shared on efforts that are being taken in the Kansai area based on the experience of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake; examples were also shared from outside Japan. Based on such comments there was a discussion on the need to form networks, also touching upon the political issues involved in risk management.
 The content of this conference was published in a March 2017 report that is scheduled for release on the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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