9.COM 10.22

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Japan has nominated Washi, craftsmanship of traditional Japanese hand-made paper (No. 01001) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The traditional craft of hand-making paper, or Washi, is practised in three communities in Japan: Misumi-cho in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture, Mino City in Gifu Prefecture and Ogawa Town/Higashi-chichibu Village in Saitama Prefecture. The paper is made from the fibres of the paper mulberry plant, which are soaked in clear river water, thickened, and then filtered through a bamboo screen. Washi paper is used not only for letter writing and books, but also in home interiors to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors. Most of the inhabitants of the three communities play roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of mulberry, training in the techniques, and the creation of new products to promote Washi domestically and abroad. Washi papermaking is transmitted on three levels: among families of Washi craftspeople, through preservation associations and by local municipalities. Families and their employees work and learn under Washi masters, who have inherited the techniques from their parents. All the people living in the communities take pride in their tradition of Washi-making and regard it as the symbol of their cultural identity. Washi also fosters social cohesion, as the communities comprise people directly engaged in or closely related to the practice.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List:

R.1:   Traditional knowledge, techniques and processes to produce Washi hand-made paper have been transmitted from generation to generation, providing local people with a sense of identity and fostering social cohesion;

R.2:   Inscription of Washi on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage in general and to encouraging dialogue, thus reflecting the viability of traditional knowledge and skills;

R.3:   Various safeguarding measures are currently in place and planned in the future to promote, document and transmit Washi-making, including formal training, exhibitions and school demonstrations as well as efforts to promote cultivation of the paper mulberry tree and the use of traditional paper in contemporary design;

R.4:   The nomination process was carried out with the full participation of the Washi-making communities as well as of local inhabitants and authorities; free, prior and informed consent is demonstrated;

R.5:   The three types of Washi-making (Sekishu-Banshi, Hon-minoshi and Hosokawa-shi) are all designated as Important Intangible Cultural Properties in the national inventory maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, updated regularly with the participation of communities.

  1. Inscribes Washi, craftsmanship of traditional Japanese hand-made paper on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Takes note that the present inscription replaces the 2009 inscription of Sekishu-Banshi, papermaking in the Iwami region of Shimane Prefecture, in conformity with Chapter I.6 of the Operational Directives.

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