Sixty traditional festivals and dances in 20 prefectures designated by local governments as intangible folk culture assets have been ended or suspended due to population declines and the aging of rural communities, a survey has found.

The importance of folk culture assets has been underscored by the recent registration of 33 traditional festivals across Japan on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

On a local level, however, population aging and an exodus of young people to the cities have made it hard for many of these centuries-old traditions to be maintained.