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Japan to push architectural craft for UNESCO heritage list


Kyodo News

Tokyo  /  Tue, February 26, 2019  /  03:17 am
Japan to push architectural craft for UNESCO heritage list

Murodo of Horyuji Temple in Nara prefecture, Japan (Shutterstock/Chiaki Yokoyama)

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

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

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

Japan nominated it last year, but UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee decided not to consider it in 2019 due to the number of requests from member countries exceeding its limit. It would be Japan's 22nd inscription on the list, if successful.

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

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

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

Read also: Indonesia to propose gamelan as UNESCO cultural heritage 

The U.N. body's Intergovernmental Committee holds a session every fall to assess requests from countries for inscription of their cultural elements. This year, it will be held in Colombia.

Last year, a set of Japanese folk rituals featuring "Raiho-shin," or visiting deity, 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 "Oga no Namahage" in the northeastern prefecture of Akita.

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