|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
7th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The 7th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from December 3 to 7, 2012. The session was attended by 2 experts from the Institute, MIYATA Shigeyuki of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and FUTAGAMI Yoko of the Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. Grenada had planned to host the session but withdrew in August due to fiscal reasons. Uncharacteristically, the session was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. UNESCO’s own fiscal predicament resulted in a number of complaints about logistics, e.g. only limited copies of session documents were available and there was no video streaming of events at the second venue.
During the session, 4 nominated files were inscribed in the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding,” 27 were inscribed in the “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” and 2 safeguarding practices were registered as “Best Safeguarding Practices.” Nachi no Dengaku [a religious performing art performed at the Nachi fire festival] had been nominated by Japan for the Representative List but a preliminary review by the Subsidiary Body led to the nomination being referred back to the Submitting State. State members of the Committee deemed the nomination to have satisfied the criteria for inscription, so Nachi no Dengaku was ultimately inscribed. This situation was not unique to Japan. Many nominations were inscribed despite being referred back to the Submitting State. A guideline of 1 nominated file per country has essentially been instituted. To limit the overall number of files to evaluate, Committee Members are scrutinizing each nomination rather carefully. Last year’s 6th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the ICH and the June session of the General Assembly of the State Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH had been marked by a rift in opinions. In contrast, the 7th session featured few sharp disagreements between Committee Members. The session consistently featured a generally accommodating atmosphere. Because of regional divisions, countries in Africa had submitted few nominations, but proposals from those states increased considerably during the 7th session. Capacity building has taken place in the region since the Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH took effect, and those efforts appear to have finally come to fruition. For the first time, Japan has been chosen as a member of the Subsidiary Body to evaluate nominations for inscription on the Representative List in 2013. Given this opportunity, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hopes to capitalize on its expertise in order to help with the Subsidiary Body’s evaluations.
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 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.
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.
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.
Discussions at the Conference
An international conference organized by the Folklore Society of Korea was held on May 12th as part of efforts to designate Naganeupseong Folk Village (Suncheon City) as a world heritage site. Experts from various disciplines related to cultural properties such as history, folklore, and architecture and administration officials involved in protecting cultural properties participated in the conference. Mr. Miyata Shigeyuki from Japan was invited to give a lecture on “The present state of designation of intangible world heritage in Japan.” Naganeupseong Folk Village is not merely an amusement park but it is a place where people reside. Participants shared the perception that approaches to assessing such a “living” heritage as both tangible and intangible are essential. There was also great interest in how Japan deals with intangible properties. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such exchanges of opinion and publicize its experiences findings from Japan.
The Reports on Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties
The Reports on Preservation and Utilization of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties was published and distributed to interested persons and organizations. This report is based on a 5-year (2006–2010) project on intangible folk cultural properties that was conducted in parallel with the study and collection of data on folk techniques. The report includes three papers regarding preservation and utilization of intangible folk properties; “A study of folk techniques and a report of results,” “Publicizing and international exchange of intangible folk cultural properties—15 years of the International Festival of Folk Performing Arts,” and “An essay on organizations transmitting folk performing arts—The present state of the hozon-kai.” A PDF version of the document in its entirety will be made available on our website.
An international seminar is routinely held under the auspices of the “NETWORKING OF EAST ASIAN CULTURAL HERITAGE (NEACH),” an organization that consists of the 10 ASEAN states as well as Japan, China, and South Korea. Malaysia hosted the seminar in Kuala Lumpur from March 5 to 8, 2011. The theme of the Seminar was intangible cultural heritage and Mr. Shigeyuki Miyata from Japan was invited to give a lecture on “Documentation and Archiving of Japanese Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Even though some participating states were not parties to the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,” participants were generally quite conscious of the need for conservation of intangible cultural heritage and an active discussion took place. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage plans to actively participate in such conferences and publicize its experiences in Japan.
On January 14, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held an international workshop on the protection of intangible cultural heritage at the seminar room of the Institute under the framework of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Administrators and conservation specialists from nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Indonesia, South Korea, China, Fiji, Philippines, Bhutan, Vietnam, Mongolia and India) participated in this workshop. Members of the Ainu Old-Style Dance Performance Alliance Conservation Association along with Mr. Miyata from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage joined the workshop, and gave a presentation on the current status of and issues relating to the protection of intangible cultural heritage. At the comprehensive discussions we discussed the role of the community in the protection of intangible cultural heritage. On January 15, we visited Miura City, Kanagawa, which was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site last year.
International seminar “Sharing Intangible Cultural Heritage”
This international seminar was hosted by organizations such as the International Social Science Council and National Autonomous University of Mexico and was fully supported by the Mexican government and Oaxaca City. Miyata Shigeyuki, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, was invited as the sole participant from Asia, and gave entitled The Creation of Future Intangible Cultural Heritage in Japan. Mexico is a committee country of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, a constituent country of the supplementary organization that examines the candidates registered in the representative list currently submitted by each country, and one of the countries that positively develops activities for conserving intangible cultural heritage. This seminar invited certain key people who conserve intangible cultural heritage, including the Director-General of UNESCO and Mr. Cazdanard, the chairman of assembly conference for signatory countries of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Vivid discussions were held with relevant local individuals. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage hopes to positively participate in such opportunities and widely communicate the Japanese experience.
Dr. Kim (right), Director of the Folkloric Studies Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea, exchanging the statement of mutual agreement for Japan-Korea research exchange with Miyata (left), Director of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo
This statement of mutual agreement is based on the agreement for research exchange between the Independent Administrative Institution, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties of Japan and the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea that was concluded in 2005 and prescribes, in concrete terms, arrangements for research exchange in the field of intangible cultural heritage between the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of our Institute and the Folkloric Studies Division of our counterpart in Korea. The agreement was concluded with signatures at the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea on June 3, 2008. From now on, the two parties will exchange researchers, provide training and other programs and hold discussions to realize future collaborative researches in accordance with this agreement. It was also decided that the results of these undertakings would be published in the form of collected papers of the joint research at the end of fiscal year 2010.
The Training Course for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU), was held from January 21 to 26. Administrative officials engaged in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage were invited from various Asian nations The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo took part in the project as a co-organizer from the time of its planning. Furthermore, Miyata of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage participated as a lecturer during the Course and gave two lectures: “Mechanism for Safeguarding and Inventory-Making of ICH in Japan” and “Introduction to ICH Activities by National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo.”: There were many questions from the participants on not only the system of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Japan but also on the activities of the Institute, showing the increasing interest in these themes.
Ise Daikagura (Kuwana, Mie prefecture)
Investigation was made of the 49th Kinki, Tokai, Hokuriku District Folk Performing Arts Festival that was held on October 28 at the Kamitonda Cultural Hall in Kamitonda-cho, Wakayama prefecture. This was one of the many investigations of folk performing arts festivals that are held every year in various parts of the country that the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage conducts from time to time. This year the operation of this festival had been reviewed and it was decided that the district would be divided into two and the prefectures in each sub-block would participate in the festival in alternating years. This year 8 groups from 6 prefectures participated. Since this was the first year in the new way, people were interested in how the festival would be operated. Fortunately, there was full-house attendance and comparatively sufficient performance time was secured in comparison with last year. Thus, the festival was confirmed to have been a success.
2nd Ordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The 2nd Ordinary Session of Intergovernmental Committee on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held from September 3 to 7 at Plaza Heisei of the Tokyo International Exchange Center. At this meeting discussions were held on the Operational Directives related to the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was started during the 1st Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee held in May at Chengdu, China. Concrete results were obtained on many issues including, for example, the concrete schedule toward the first inscription of the Representative List of the Intangible cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2009. At this meeting, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo acquired qualification as an official observer, and Inaba from the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation and Miyata from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage attended the entire meeting.
Intangible Cultural Heritage “Kutiyattam”
A meeting of experts on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was held for three days from April 2. Twenty-nine experts on intangible cultural heritage from various nations attended this meeting, which was sponsored by UNESCO and the government of India, at New Delhi. From the Institute, Miyata of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage participated.
This meeting is an important meeting in preparation for the first extraordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee to be held in May at Chengdu, China and the second ordinary session of the Intergovernmental Committee to be held in September at Tokyo. Discussions were held concerning the relationship between the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding which are the core of the Convention, and the standards for their registration. Opinions of the experts will be used by the UNESCO Secretariat for the future implementation of the Operational Directives. However, since there was not a sufficiently common understanding among the participating experts with regard to concepts like “representativeness” and “urgent safeguarding” the discussions tended to be abstract and ended without the adoptation of any form of recommendation or the like.
Although the meeting was not necessarily successful, when considering the initial purpose for which it was held, the various cultural programs presented by India, the host country, showed India’s great desire to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage strongly felt the necessity to conduct interchange with India.