Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


A survey of Filmon audio recordings in the collection of Myogan-ji Temple (Maki Ward, City of Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture)

IKENAGA Fumio, the chief priest of the Myogan-ji Temple (right)
portable player of the Filmon sound-belt

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has conducted joint studies of Filmon sound-belts with the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University. Some of the results of those studies were previously reported in the March 2011 edition (Vol. 5) of Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage.
(http://www.tobunken.go.jp/~geino/pdf/kenkyu_hokoku05/kenkyu_hokoku05Ijima.pdf).
 Filmon endless sound-belts are a special type of audio recording medium (record) developed in pre-war Japan. At the time, the most ubiquitous records were 78 rpm records that had an average recording time of about 3 minutes. In contrast, Filmon sound-belts could record performances of 30 minutes or longer. These sound-belts were a ground-breaking invention, but they were produced only for a short period from 1938 to 1940. Moreover, they required a special player, so after the war they were soon forgotten. Only a few sound-belts and players have survived until today.
 About 120 types of sound-belts appear to have been sold. When the report mentioned earlier was written, 85 types were thought to have survived. Late last year, information became available that Myogan-ji Temple in Niigata Prefecture (Maki Ward, City of Joetsu) had a number of sound-belts in its collection, so the sound-belts were surveyed in October with the assistance of the Temple’s chief priest, IKENAGA Fumio. The survey found 49 types of sound-belts in the collection, and 16 of these types had not been seen before. Moreover, few portable players remain, but the Temple had one in working order. The survey was also a major milestone in terms of on-site studies.
 The sound-belts in Myogan-ji Temple’s collection consist of a number of public performances, most of which are Rokyoku or recited stories accompanied by music. According to the Temple’s chief priest, the Temple’s former chief priest, the late IKENAGA Takakatsu, fashioned a setup for wire broadcasts on the main building of Myogan-ji Temple (broadcasts started in 1937) because the region had little entertainment (it currently takes about an hour to reach the Temple by car from the JR Takada Station, which is the closest station). Apparently, the late IKENAGA Takakatsu bought large numbers of recordings to broadcast (primarily in the form of long recordings on Filmon sound-belts) along with players. Several broadcast facilities from that time still remain. The collection is also a wealth of material in terms of the history of folk culture in the region.


7th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties held

the 7th Conference

 On October 26th, the 7th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held with “Passing down Recollections and Records: Disasters and Intangible Folk Culture” as its theme. Following up on the 6th Conference on “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction” that was held in December of last year, this year’s Conference delved further into the topic of disasters and intangible folk cultural properties.
 Ways of passing down intangible folk cultural properties to future generations are normally an extremely important topic, but this topic is particularly pressing in regions that were disrupted and depopulated by the tsunami and nuclear plant accident resulting from the March 11, 2011 earthquake. Thus, the 7th Conference covered “Records,” which is one way of passing down intangible folk cultural properties. Invited to the Conference were 5 presenters who dealt with records in various capacities following the disaster and 2 commentators. These experts described and discussed previous efforts and issues and prospects for the future. Various recording techniques and uses of records were presented during the Conference. In addition, the importance of a network linking efforts was again confirmed from various perspectives.
 The 7th Conference was also attended by many relevant personnel from regions potentially slated to suffer a large-scale disaster in the future. Steps that can be taken and steps that should be taken to prepare intangible folk cultural properties for crises in the near future, such as massive disasters, the falling birthrate, aging of the population, and depopulation of rural areas, are important topics warranting future discussion.
 Plans are to publish a report on the Conference’s proceedings in March 2013.


Research on the Kyogen of Yamguchi Sagi School

Interview with Mr. KOBAYASHI Eiji

 The 7th Public Lecture, organized annually by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will be held in December 2012, with the Kyogen of the Yamaguchi Sagi School as its theme. The Sagi School had been one of the Schools of Kyogen in central Japan until it was abolished under the confusion in the Meiji Restoration. In Yamaguchi prefecture, however, the tradition was maintained until present thanks to SYUNNICHI Syosaku, a Kyogen performer who taught his performing skills to the nonprofessionals. Now the preservation society for Yamaguchi Sagi School has formed and was designated as the intangible cultural properties of Yamaguchi prefecture. Department of Performing Arts, the predecessor of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, conducted on-site recording of this Kyogen in 1958, which became the oldest record of the Kyogen of Yamaguchi Sagi School.
 The Department conducted the on-site research on September 18th, and interviewed with Mr. KOBAYASHI Eiji, the eldest member of the preserving society, about the situation of the transmission of the Sagi School. Its result will be introduced in the coming Public Lecture.


International Field School Alumni Seminar on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia Pacific in Lamphun, Thailand

Participants of the International Seminar

 This international seminar was held in Lamphun town in Northern Thailand, from August 6–10, 2012, under the joint sponsorship of the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, Thailand, and the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region, Japan. MIYATA Shigeyuki from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage participated in the seminar as a guest Resource Person.
 In the seminar, young experts from Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and Bhutan, who are involved in museum management and anthropological studies took part in practical case study reports and discussions, and fieldwork studies. Researchers from Thailand, the U.K., the United States and Japan also participated as Resource Persons, and in addition to giving presentations, they also participated in the discussions. Since most of the participants are practically involved in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in their region through their daily research activities in museums, their discussions were extremely lively and valuable, reflecting their high level of practical concern. It was also very encouraging for us Resource Persons to hear the fresh voices of the young experts who are at the forefront of research. This seminar is planned to be held in the same way yearly from next year on. As a result, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in the seminar in cooperation with the International Research Centre for ICH in the Asia-Pacific, and to contribute as experts on Japan.


The Second Research Exchange with the South Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage

Interview with NOMURA Mansaku, a Kyogen performer

 The second research exchange between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the South Korean National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage has begun according to the agreement signed last November. Following TAKAKUWA’s research in Korea in May, Ms. Lee Myoung-Jin, a researcher from Korea, visited Japan in July, and conducted research on Kyogen for a month.
 The ideas regarding intangible cultural heritage in Korea are different from those in Japan: the Korean ICH does not distinguish important intangible cultural properties from important intangible folk cultural properties, as they do in Japan.
 Most performing arts in Korea can be categorized as important intangible folk cultural properties under the Japanese classification system, and also the basic idea of “what is traditional?” differs from Japan to Korea. Thus, it is necessary to learn the differences in order to compare performing arts and their protection systems. However, during her visit, Ms. Lee seems to have deepened her cognizance of the meaning of tradition in Japan while interviewing the Kyogen performer of the Izumi School.


The 4th session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The 4th session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

 The 4th session of the General Assembly took place from June 4 to 8, 2012 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. Representing the Institute, MIYATA Shigeyuki participated in the conference. The main subject for discussion during the session was revision of the Operational Directives, which led to a more lively discussion among representatives from participating nations than takes place at a usual session. Past sessions approved the decisions of the Intergovernmental Committee, but the current session turned into a discussion, much like the Intergovernmental Committee. Revision of the way in which nominations for inscription on the Representative List are evaluated was a matter of intense debate. The question was whether to change from evaluation of nominations by the Subsidiary Body, with extensive advice from the Intergovernmental Committee, to evaluation by the Consultative Body, which is comprised of experts like those tasked with considering nominations for the Urgent Safeguarding List. In the end, the present method of nominations evaluated by the Subsidiary body was retained, with revision of recommendations from the Committee. Decisions that will greatly affect the implementation of convention were made, e.g. the maximum ceiling of files to be evaluated annually by the Committee, a long-running concern, was formally defined in the Operational Directives. Although the Assembly still has supreme decision-making ability with regard to the Convention, this session was the first to completely overturn the recommendations of the Committee, and problems with implementation of the Convention remain. In addition, the appearance of divergent opinions among different regional groups must be followed closely. Since Assembly sessions have increasingly become a forum for discussion, this trend must be followed closely in the future.


Preliminary research on Kezurikake-like poles in Sarawak State, Borneo

Kezurikake-like poles of the Berawan people as a decoration to welcome “VIPs”
Kezurikake-like poles of the Kayan people fashioned during slash-and-burn agriculture

 This research examined customs and folk techniques related to poles found in Sarawak State, Borneo from June 27th to July 4th. These poles resemble the Kezurikake, or half-shaved sticks, found in Japan. In the Japanese Archipelago, Kezurikake are widely used as ritual implement or as decorations during Ko-syogatu, or the New Year according to the lunar calendar, or as Inau, a ritual implement of the greatest importance to the Ainu people. Although similar poles were known to be found in Borneo, there have been almost no field studies or comparative studies of these poles by experts. Thus, preliminary research was conducted in cooperation with experts from the Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies, Hokkaido University in order to facilitate future comparative studies.
 The research site provided several opportunities to talk with local residents and observe their creation of these poles. A rough outline of customs related to these poles was also obtained. The names, uses, forms, and materials of these poles differ slightly depending on the tribe. The Iban people, for example, call these poles Bungai Jaraw (Bungai means“flower”). Nowadays, these poles are typically considered a decoration to welcome “VIPs.” However, there is some evidence that these poles had greater symbolic or religious meaning since they played an important role in headhunting and during traditional festivals. More in-depth research is needed.
 Plans are to study Kezurikake-like poles in countries like Borneo in order to better understanding the customs related to Kezurikake in Japan and techniques for their fabrication.


Research Exchanges with South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage: A Comparative Study of Buddhist Rituals

Monks and believers praying for their ancestors
A lantern for the Nento Festival

 A second round of research exchanges between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Folkloric Studies Division of South Korea’s National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage began based on an agreement concluded last November. During the first year of exchanges, Takakuwa visited South Korea for 2 weeks from May 18th to study Buddhist rituals. Buddhism plays a great role in both Japan and South Korea, but there are a number of differences in rituals and observances since Buddhism has developed in forms particular to each country.
 In South Korea, April 8th on the lunar calendar is Buddha’s birthday and a national holiday, and the Nento Festival or the Paper-lantern Festival is gaily celebrated 1 week prior to the Buddha’s birthday, even attracting tourists from abroad.
 Buddhists in South Korea, 90 percent of whom follow the Jogye order of Zen, worship Buddha every morning, noon, and night. This practice is similarly followed by Japanese Buddhists, but South Korea Buddhists appear to be more enthusiastic, with believers participating in overnight retreats and praying with monks.
 In addition, religious ceremonies are considered “religious acts” and are not designated as important intangible cultural properties in Japan. In South Korea, however, religious ceremonies are treated quite differently, as exemplified by the Yeongsan-jae ritual of the Taego order that has been inscribed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO. This comparative study of Buddhist rituals also revealed differences in Japanese and Korean perceptions beyond the Buddhist religion.


Research on Intangible Cultural Properties in Areas Stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Ugoku-Tanabata floats from Nagasuka ward in the City of Rikuzen-takata that were damaged by the tsunami. They have been assembled in a vacant lot in front of a wooden Buddhist monument marking houses that were washed away.
Hooks used in the Sanriku area to catch abalone. These hooks were made by local smithing. The blacksmith’s home workshop in the City of Rikuzen-takata was not damaged by the tsunami, but abalone fishing has not started since many fishermen were affected by the disaster last year. The blacksmith has also been unable to ship the hooks he has made.

 Damage to and restoration of intangible cultural properties in the coastal areas of the Tohoku region was studied. Over a year has passed since the disaster, but studies of intangible cultural properties and support for their restoration have lagged behind studies of and support for tangible cultural properties. Relevant organizations and groups have striven to collect and disseminate information on the damage and link providers of support with recipients, but support efforts have often failed to meet needs and too much support is provided where it is not needed instead of where it is needed. Such problems have arisen because of the lack of a network linking support efforts overall.
 In many instances, sites of folk techniques had not been determined prior to the disaster, and information on damage overall and needed support has yet to be obtained. Many folk techniques use natural materials such as wood and clay, so practitioners face both the physical damage from the tsunami as well as radioactive contamination of materials as a result of the nuclear plant accident and harmful rumors. Determining the state of those techniques under such circumstances is difficult.
 Although such problems exist, festivals and folk performing arts have been emphasized by local residents in light of prayers and memorials for the deceased. The strength of these cultural practices is more evident or is being reassessed in many instances since these festivals and folk arts have served as an important tie to bind disjointed communities with residents living in temporary housing.
 With a focus on conditions in stricken areas, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage will strive to collect information. The Department will also work to create new networks to provide support to stricken areas and respond to future disasters.


“Intangible Culture Heritage inPost-earthquake Reconstruction—Reports from the Field and Proposals” published

Report on the 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties

 A report on the 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was published in March 2011. The conference was held on December 16, 2011 with the theme of “Intangible Culture Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction.” Seven experts working on reconstruction from various standpoints were invited to give lectures and to discuss actual conditions and issues concerning intangible cultural heritage in post-earthquake Tohoku. Details of the lectures and discussion are included in this report in order to share information with and describe issues to as many people as possible. The report was distributed to relevant personnel, including all of the conference attendees. The entire report can also be downloaded in PDF format from the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is planning to hold a 7th conference in the autumn of 2012 to continue discussing the theme of “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction.”


Publication of ‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’

‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’

 Volume 6 of ‘Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage’ was published in March 2012. This volume includes not only research and reports relating to intangible cultural heritage, but also the transcriptions of the public scholarship lecture, “Records of the Shuni-e Ritual (Omizu-tori) at Todaiji Temple,” held on October 22, 2011 sponsored by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, as well as the planned discussion between Mr. HASHIMOTO Shoen, Choro (the head monk) of Todaiji Temple, and Ms. SATO Michiko, an emeritus researcher at the Institute. The topics covered in this discussion would be very interesting not only for the participants who were at the lecture, but also for anyone who is interested in the Shuni-e Ritual at Todaiji or in Japanese traditional events and performing arts. As with the previous volumes, the PDF version of all pages will be made public on our website.


Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage, International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES) meets in the City of Cuernavaca, Mexico

Conference

 The Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage is a newly established commission of the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES). The Commission met for the first time at the Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias in the City of Cuernavaca on February 25 and 26, 2012. The Commission was Shigeyuki Miyata of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. At the meeting, attendees from participating countries presented and discussed their contributions to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage as experts. The representative from Japan described the Guideline for Visual Documentation of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties drafted by the Research Institute and proposed the drafting of guidelines for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage from an expert standpoint. Distinct from approaches by government bodies, approaches involving experts are crucial, given the increasing need for contributions by experts in relation to putting the Convention of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage into practice. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such meetings and publicize Japan’s experience as an expert in this field.


Recording of the Kodan Nanba-senki

A Kodan performance by ICHIRYUSAI Teisui

 Documentation of Kodan, a form of storytelling, by the Research Institute started in 2002 (at the time, the department responsible was the Department of Performing Arts, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo). Since that first recording, the Department recorded performances of 2 long Kodan (a Jidai-mono, or period drama, and a Sewa-mono, or a story about the lives of ordinary people) by Mr. ICHIRYUSAI, Teisui, a preserver of the Important Intangible Cultural Property of Kodan. Performances of the Jidai-mono Tenmei-shichisei-dan (recorded 12 times from June 11, 2006 to December 26, 2005) and Sengoku-Sodo (23 times from February 9, 2006 to November 22, 2011) and the Sewa-mono Midorinohayashi-gokanroku (20 times from June 11, 2006 to February 13, 2008) by Mr. Ichiryusai have been completely recorded. Recording of the 3rd Jidai-mono, Nanba-senki, began on February 14, 2012. The story tells of the Osaka Fuyu no Jin and Natsu no Jin (the winter siege and then summer siege of Osaka Castle) when the Toyotomi Clan was destroyed by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
 The Department plans to continue recording Kodan with the cooperation of Mr. Ichiryusai. (the Sewa-mono Bunka-shiranami is now being recorded).


Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Armenia

A daghdghan, or wooden amulet hung around the neck to protect domestic animals and children from the “evil eye”
Wooden spoons

 Research was conducted on intangible culture in Armenia. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has implemented international projects to primarily conserve tangible cultural properties in the countries of the Caucasus and West Asia. In January 2012, Migiwa Imaishi of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducted a basic study of intangible cultural heritage in those countries in order to explore the potential for international research exchanges and cooperation in the field of intangible cultural heritage. As part of the study, Imaishi conducted documentary research by visiting several museums, including the History Museum of Armenia and the National Museum of Ethnography and History of the Liberation Struggle of Armenia. Imaishi talked with ethnologists and also studied the current state of research and transmission of culture in Armenia. Ethnologists acknowledge that much of the “traditional culture” of Armenia was lost during the period of Soviet rule, but pieces of culture are remembered and continued to this day. Indigenous beliefs and customs that have fused and coexisted with Christian beliefs and customs are particularly interesting. One example involves eating manners and customs. There are various customs regarding salt and the use of special salt containers (such as pots shaped like a woman or bird) that remain culturally important. Likewise, each member of a family used to have his or her own wooden spoon, just like Japanese have their own chopsticks, so spoons symbolized each member of the family. The Dovlat, a deity of the home, was also said to dwell in spoons. Spoons are also said to authorize the rights of housewives and had many magical uses, just like ladles and chopsticks in Japan. The potential for studies or research exchanges in some form must be explored in concert with local researchers.


Restoration of Eten-raku Ima-yo

 Eten-raku, popular since the Kamakura period, is now known as Gagaku music performed at wedding ceremonies or as a Kuroda-bushi of Japanese folk songs. Though Gagaku was originally instrumental music, the melody of Eten-raku is a favorite among the Japanese. Eten-raku features varied verses. These are known as Eten-raku Ima-yo.
 Noh plays achieved success with Zeami in the early Muromachi period and sometimes set up a climactic scene by adopting the essence of other performing arts. For example, the play “Ume-gae” has a Gagaku musician’s wife as its heroine and features Eten-raku Ima-yo verses before the heroine dances as she recalls her past. The chanting melody has changed so much that it does not sound like Eten-raku anymore, but restoring the melody of the Momoyama Period should bring out the melody of Eten-raku. Ume-gae was performed publicly by Tessen-kai of the Kanze school in December and featured the melody of Eten-raku Ima-yo, which was restored with the cooperation of Dr. Takakuwa of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Study of old Noh performances by Dr. Takakuwa has shown that exchanges of the music from different genres, such as Gagaku and Noh, are evident on-stage.


The 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties; “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Post-earthquake Reconstruction”

Presentation
Overall discussions

 The 6th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on December 16th, 2011 with “Intangible Cultural Heritages in Post-earthquake Reconstruction” as its theme.
 After the huge earthquake in March, various efforts have been made to preserve the culture and cultural properties of disaster-stricken areas. However, the reality is that issues with and information concerning the intangible culture and cultural properties of stricken areas were not adequately shared. Thus, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage planned to continue to work on this theme. For the first year, the Department sought to clarify conditions in devastated areas and to share information. Five experts who were working in the Tohoku area before the earthquake or who are providing logistical support to or helping with reconstruction efforts were invited to give lectures at the conference. Two commented from the respective standpoints of academia and administration.
 Various subjects were raised and discussed from various standpoints thanks to comments from various individuals. Interestingly, the theme of the conference was the earthquake but the actual issues raised preceded the earthquake, such as how to safeguard folk culture, how to deal with a lack of individuals to carry on traditions of techniques and shrinking communities, systematic problems involved in managing intangible cultural heritage, and the force and essential significance of folk performing arts, religions, and beliefs. An extremely unusual event, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami had distorted everyday life and revealed what is essential. One of the invited speakers was from Fukushima, which is struggling with a nuclear power plant accident. Although Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures are all labeled disaster-stricken areas, conditions in Iwate and Miyagi differ vastly from those in Fukushima. There has been little talk of Fukushima’s reconstruction. As the speaker reiterated, nuclear power is a force that had never been fully controlled by humans and was now present in a form completely divorced from the local culture.
 Plans are to disseminate and share information by covering issues concerning the stricken areas and restoration. The lectures and discussions at the conference should be published in March.


Study of techniques to catch Japanese cormorants in Jyu-o town, Hitachi City, Part 2

Decoy cormorants placed in front of a hut (where catchers wait for cormorants) on a 15-meter-high cliff
A cormorant that has just been hooked and caught

 This study examined techniques of catching Japanese cormorants (an intangible folk cultural property of Hitachi City) in Jyu-o Town, Ibaraki Prefecture in the beginning of November. This was the second time this area was visited since last spring, when the aftermath of the earthquake in March was investigated. Since the study took place midway through the autumn cormorant season, the actual techniques used to catch cormorants were observed and recorded. Cormorants in flight are lured in by using several cormorants as decoys. They are then hooked with a long bamboo pole, placed in bamboo cages with their bills fixed with a little wooden implement called a Hashikake, and sent to cormorant fishing sites all over Japan.
 Researchers were fortunate enough to see a cormorant been caught during the study since cormorant catchers mentioned that they often saw no cormorants flying even after waiting for several days. In terms of the type of technique, techniques to catch cormorants could be categorized as ambush hunting techniques, which include techniques to catch falcons and Mabushi hunting, a primitive style of hunting. Cormorant catching retains this primitiveness because catchers have to select and catch only quality cormorants and because large numbers of cormorants need not be caught. However, this also means that cormorant catching alone cannot constitute one’s livelihood, resulting in a lack of catchers to carry on the technique. Since almost all of the cormorant fishermen at 12 locations in Japan use cormorants caught in Jyu-o town, this technique of catching cormorants is an important folk technique that sustains traditional cormorant fishing in Japan. Additional safeguards are needed to pass on this technique in the future


“6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”

6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

 The 6th session of Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held in the Nusa Dua area of Bali, Indonesia from November 22 to 29, 2011 at the Bali International Convention Centre. Representing the Institute, MIYATA Shigeyuki and IMAISHI Migiwa from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and FUTAGAMI Yoko from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems participated in the conference.
 In the Session, 11 nominated files were inscribed in the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding,” 19 were inscribed in the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” and 5 safeguarding practices were registered as “Best Safeguarding Practices.”
 Six files nominated by Japan for the Representative List were evaluated. As a result, 2 nominated elements, “Mibu no Hana Taue, ritual of transplanting rice in Mibu, Hiroshima” and “Sada Shin Noh, sacred dancing at Sada shrine, Shimane,” were inscribed, and 4 nominated files, including “Hon-minoshi, papermaking in the Mino region of Gifu Prefecture,” were “referred” back to the submitting state.
 “Referring” a nomination is a system adopted by this session of the Committee in order to ask Submitting States for additional information, if necessary, to better recommend whether to inscribe the element or not. Since the system is brand new, lengthy debate was held over the appropriateness of each “referral.” Topics that had been discussed starting last year, such as limits on the number of nominations considered, limits on the number of nominations made by each State, and the appropriateness of involving experts from the Consultative Body, led to a greater rift in opinions among Committee Members than was apparent last year. Several topics were even decided by a majority vote, which had never occurred before in a session. Although in full force for less than 3 years, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage appears to have reached a turning point. This issue is of considerable interest domestically and, given the desire to encourage international exchanges in the area of Intangible Cultural Heritage, these trends must be carefully followed in the future.


6th Public Lecture“Records of the Shuni-e Ritual (Omizu-tori) at Todaiji Temple”

Lecture program
A talk underway
Exhibition at the Heiseikan

 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held an annual public lecture at the Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum on October 22nd. The lecture dealt with recordings of the Shuni-e Ritual (Omizu-tori), held annually at Todaiji Temple, among materials in the Department’s collection. On-site recordings have continued to be made since 1967, resulting in an extensive collection including more than 400 10-inch open-reel tapes. Some of the recordings were played for the audience in between talks by the invited speakers, Mr. HASHIMOTO Shoen, Cyo-ro (the head monk) of Todaiji Temple, who confined himself to the temple for prayer from the 1960s to the 1990s, and Ms. SATO Michiko, an emeritus researcher at the Institute who played a leading role in the recording work. An exhibition displaying rare materials related to Shuni-e was also featured at the Heiseikan.
 The lecture and the exhibition were well-received by 200 or more participants. An overview of the lecture, including interesting stories told by Mr. Hashimoto and Ms. Sato in their talks, will be presented in the next Research and Reports on Intangible Cultural Heritage, Vol. 6, to be published in March 2012.


Research on techniques to maintain Kayabuki roofs in the City of Senboku, Akita Prefecture

Setting up wooden scaffold by a Kayabuki hut
Craftsmen thatching a roof using the Sashi-gaya technique

 Techniques of maintaining thatched roofs in Akita Prefecture were studied in mid-October 2011. Kayabuki, or a thatched roof, is a general term to explain roofs that are covered with plant fibers, such as Japanese pampas grass, reeds, and Kariyasu (Miscanthus tinctorius) and is a traditional style used on Japanese houses, temples, and shrines. Since Japan’s period of high economic growth, techniques, landscapes, and culture related to Kayabuki have rapidly disappeared. Furthermore, the decline has been spurred by a decline in the number of craftsmen due to their advancing age and the lack of materials due to environmental changes.
 Research was conducted by interviewing Kayabuki craftsmen and studying techniques firsthand with the cooperation of the “Committee for the Transmission of Kayabuki Culture, Akita.” There are basically two types of techniques to maintain a Kayabuki roof: Fuki-kae, a technique to entirely re-thatch a roof, and Sashi-gaya, a technique to partially re-thatch a roof by only changing damaged materials. The Tohoku region that faces the Sea of Japan and that includes Akita Prefecture is unique in the sense that the craftsmen there mostly maintain Kayabuki only by using the Sashi-gaya technique.
 The current study plans to investigate and record the Sashi-gaya technique in order to understand it as a folk technique and to clarify its cultural importance.


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