• Kyodo

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Japan has decided to nominate traditional architectural craftsmanship used in timber-framed structures for addition to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in the fall of 2020, officials said Monday.

The government will submit nomination documents to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization by the end of March.

The centuries-old traditional style of craftsmanship covers techniques in 17 areas essential for repairing and restoring shrines, temples and old houses.

Japan nominated the methods last year, but UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee decided not to consider them in 2019 due to the number of requests from member countries exceeding its limit. If successful, the nomination would be Japan’s 22nd listing.

Domestically, Japan has designated the craftsmanship as one of dozens of Selected Conservation Techniques.

The skills, spanning roofing to decorations, are used in wooden structures such as Horyuji, a World Heritage Buddhist temple in Nara Prefecture.

Despite using fragile natural materials such as wood, weeds and soil, the techniques have made it possible to build resilient structures in a country frequently hit by powerful earthquakes and strong typhoons.

The U.N. body’s Intergovernmental Committee holds a session each fall to assess requests from countries for inclusion of their cultural elements. This year’s session will be held in Colombia.

Last year, a set of Japanese folk rituals featuring Raiho-shin ritual visits by deities, in which people dress up as gods and visit homes, was approved for addition to the list.

One of the most popular Raiho-shin rituals is the Oga no Namahage in Akita Prefecture.

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