All About Japan

Full List—Japan's Intangible Cultural Heritage

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18. Nachi no Dengaku, a Traditional Dance Performed in the Town of Nachi-Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture

Nachi no Dengaku is a series of dances performed at the Nachi Fire Festival, held on July 14 at Kumano Nachi Taisha in Wakayama Prefecture. Kumano Nachi Taisha itself is part of the World Heritage listing for the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.

Nachi no Dengaku comprises 22 different dances, each lasting 45 minutes, featuring groups of eight to 10 performers accompanied by a flute player, four drummers, and four men playing binzasara, wooden, Slinky-like clapper instruments. Dengaku literally means "rice field dance," and dengaku dances were widely performed at shrines and temples around Kyoto and Nara between the years 1000 and 1500, eventually influencing performing arts such as Noh. Nachi no Dengaku dates back 600 years, when dengaku performers from Kyoto were invited to take part in Nachi's spectacular fire festival. It was recognized by UNESCO in 2012.

19. Washoku, Traditional Dietary Cultures of the Japanese, Notably for the Celebration of New Year

Washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, was recognized by UNESCO as an element of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. Beyond the food itself, UNESCO recognized washoku's spirit of respect for nature, focus on locally sourced ingredients and importance to Japanese culture, singling out the osechi ryori and related cuisine prepared around New Year's.

20. Washi, Craftsmanship of Traditional Japanese Handmade Paper

Washi is traditional, hand-made Japanese paper. In 2014, UNESCO recognized three specific regional washi producers: Misumi-cho in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture; Mino City in Gifu Prefecture; and Higashi-Chichibu Village in Saitama Prefecture. This listing incorporated Shimane Prefecture's Sekishu-banshi paper-making technique, which was originally registered separately in 2009. Used for stationery and shoji sliding doors, all three traditions date back to the Nara Period (710-794), using fibers of the paper mulberry plant as their base material.

21. Yama, Hoko, Yatai, Float Festivals in Japan

This listing recognizes festivals from 18 prefectures across Japan, each featuring festival floats of at least one of three types: yama (山, mountain), hoko (鉾, spear) or yatai (屋台, platform).

Created in 2016, the listing incorporates two earlier inscriptions: the Yamahoko Float Ceremony of the Kyoto Gion Festival, considered one of the Three Great Festivals of Japan, and the Hitachi Furyumono, a parade featuring a 5-ton, 15-meter-high (49 ft) float that opens up to reveal five levels of mechanical puppets enacting scenes from historical stories. Other notable elements include the Takayama Festival in Gifu and the Chichibu Festival in Saitama, which, along with Kyoto's Gion Festival, make up the three greatest parade float festivals in Japan.

Roughly from north to south, the full list comprises:

1. Grand Hachinohe Sansha Festival (Hachinohe City, Aomori)
2. Float Festival of Kakunodate (Senboku City, Akita)
3. Tsuchizaki Shimmei Shrine Festival (Akita City, Akita)
4. Hanawa Festival (Kazuno City, Akita)
5. Shinjo Festival (Shinjo City, Yamagata)
6. Hitachi Furyumono (Hitachi City, Ibaraki)
7. Karasuyama Yama-age (Nasu Karasuyama City, Tochigi)
8. Kanuma Imamiya Shrine Festival (Kanuma City, Tochigi)
9. Chichibu Festival (Chichibu City, Saitama)
10. Kawagoe Hikawa Festival (Kawagoe City, Saitama)
11. Sawara Float Festival (Katori City, Chiba)
12. Takaoka Mikurumayama Festival (Takaoka City, Toyama)
13. Tatemon Festival of Uozu (Uozu City, Toyama)
14. Johana Hikiyama Festival (Nanto City, Toyama)
15. Seihaku Festival (Nanao City, Ishikawa)
16. Takayama Festival (Takayama City, Gifu)
17. Furukawa Festival (Hida City, Gifu)
18. Ogaki Festival (Ogaki City, Gifu)
19. Owari Tsushima Tenno Festival (Tsushima/Aisai City, Aichi)
20. Chiryu Festival (Chiryu City, Aichi)
21. Inuyama Festival (Inuyama City, Aichi)
22. Kamezaki Shiohi Festival (Handa City, Aichi)
23. Sunari Festival (Kanie Town, Aichi)
24. Kujirabune Festival (Yokkaichi City, Mie)
25. Ueno Tenjin Festival (Iga City, Mie)
26. Kuwana Ishidori Festival (Kuwana City, Mie)
27. Nagahama Hikiyama Festival (Nagahama City, Shiga)
28. Yamahoko, the Float Ceremony of the Kyoto Gion Festival (Kyoto City, Kyoto)
29. Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka)
30. Tobata Gion Festival (Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka)
31. Karatsu Kunchi (Karatsu City, Saga)
32. Yatsushiro Myoken Festival (Yatsushiro City, Kumamoto)
33. Hita Gion Festival (Hita City, Oita)