• Kyodo News


The Cultural Affairs Agency is pitching 13 of the nation’s designated intangible cultural assets for listing on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, hopefully in September 2010, agency officials said.

Compared with UNESCO’s screenings for its World Heritage list, registrations for intangible cultural assets are relatively easy, the officials said, adding that the 13 items will be probably be added at a UNESCO conference on intangible assets in September 2010.

The proposed items include festivals, folk songs and dances with centuries of tradition, as well as long-established paper and wooden crafts.

Among the list is Hiroshima Prefecture’s “Mibu no Hanataue,” a traditional way to plant rice in which women in large straw hats plant rice singing songs accompanied by drums and whistles. It is intended to pray for good harvest.

Other entries include Akita Prefecture’s “Namahage” ritual widely observed on the Oga Peninsula. In the ritual, men in demonlike masks and costumes scare kids and tell them to behave well.

Japan’s well-known intangible cultural assets, such as kabuki theater and “gagaku” classical music, are already on the UNESCO list.

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