Japan is a country with a long and rich cultural heritage with many traditions handed down from thousands of years ago. The country has many World Heritage Sites and Designated Cultural Properties which are internationally recognized to add value to cultural properties, thus guaranteeing their protection.
But not everyone knows the history of these sites, which is the purpose of the Japan Heritage designation. Created by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Heritage brings to life the history of these sites, showing how their unique traditions have been passed down from generation to generation. The agency’s goal through Japan Heritage is to revitalize local communities through maintaining and promoting these attractive tangible and intangible cultural properties in Japan and overseas.
Japan Heritage has three primary objectives: To recognize the narratives that bind Japan’s regional cultural properties; to maintain and use these regional cultural properties in a cohesive manner; and to strategically and effectively promote the narratives pertaining to cultural properties within Japan and abroad.
The Japan Heritage list is quite an impressive one and includes the following: Visiting the 33 Kannon in Aizu through pilgrimage; the ceramics of Hizen: Birthplace of Japanese porcelain ware; a miniature garden city from the Middle Ages built around the Onomichi Channel; Misasa, Japan’s most dangerous national treasure and a world-famous radon hot spring; Murakami Kaizoku, Japan’s largest “pirate” group and their territory in the Geiyo Archipelago; the Daisetsuzan mountain deities and the sacred land of the indigenous Ainu; and the Koka and Iga areas, birthplaces of the two main schools of ninja.
These are just some of the areas with a fascinating historical story to tell, but there are many more.
However, Japan Heritage is very selective about its designations. Applications are usually submitted at the municipal level. A board consisting of professionals from outside the Agency for Cultural Affairs uses three criteria.
— Historically unique traditions or customs that have been passed on for generations.
— A clear theme that supports the area’s appeal and that is represented at the core of the narrative. This can include cultural properties such as structures, archaeological sites, sightseeing spots, and local festivals.
— Inclusion of a narrative, rather than simply a summary of regional history and a description of local cultural properties.
Furthermore, Japan Heritage status is divided into two categories: Local Category (a narrative pertaining to one city or village) and Collective Category (a narrative pertaining to several cities or villages).
Once a Japan Heritage designation has been awarded, a number of promotion initiatives are carried out. These involve nationwide Japan Heritage coordinators, multilingual websites, brochures, a community of volunteer guides, presentations, exhibitions, workshops, symposiums, maintenance and equipping sites for public use.
This article is sponsored content from the Agency for Cultural Affairs.© Japan Today