Local Identity and Folk Performing Arts: Relocation/Resettlement and Intangible Cultural Heritage
The 9th Conference on the Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was held on December 5th. The topic of the conference was “Local Identity and Folk Performing Arts: Relocation/Resettlement and Intangible Cultural Heritage.” The Great East Japan Earthquake re-emphasized the fact that intangible cultural heritage such as folk performing arts is a way for a place to maintain its local identity. What role could folk performing arts play when communities are forced to relocate to higher ground or settle elsewhere because of an earthquake? To answer this question, this conference featured detailed presentations citing 4 examples of relocation or resettlement from around the country. The first example concerned the role and current status of folk performing arts that settlers brought with them when they settled Hokkaido. The second example concerned the state of “hometown associations” that natives of different islands and regions of Okinawa organized in Tokyo and the role that folk performing arts serve for these associations. The third example concerned the characteristics of believers in Pure Land Buddhism who migrated from Hokuriku to Fukushima Prefecture during the Edo period. The last example concerned folk performing arts that were discontinued as a result of depopulation in Yamanashi Prefecture; in fact, these arts are being practiced again by migrants to urban areas. The presentations were followed by a general discussion that delved deeper into the topic of folk performing arts based on the examples provided.