Decisión del Comité intergubernamental: 17.COM 7.B.18

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Japan has nominated Furyu-odori, ritual dances imbued with people's hopes and prayers (No. 01701) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Furyu-odori in Japan refers to various ritual folk dances, characterized by eye-catching costumes and lively dances and music. These local dances have been performed for centuries, primarily in rural areas. With life in these areas often affected by severe climate events, local communities created ritualistic performances to express their hopes for a tranquil life. The dances are performed for many reasons, including to pray for the end of plagues, the repose of the deceased, a good harvest or safety from disasters. Each element, from the costumes to the music, is believed to dispel evil spirits and misfortune and to strengthen good forces, such as local deities and ancestral spirits, that protect the communities. The dances vary from one region to the next but share commonalities. Knowledge and skills are transmitted formally and informally, through local governments and preservation organizations, in schools and within families and communities. The performance of Furyu-odori is an occasion for community members who have moved to urban areas to return home. For instance, former Uonuma City residents who live in Tokyo travel back home to take part in the dance. Some also perform Furyu-odori in Tokyo at annual gatherings of people from the same regions.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Furyu-odori refers to various ritual folk dances, characterized by elaborate costumes accompanied by songs, gong-ringing, and drum-beating. The nomination encompasses 41 representative Furyu-odori across Japan. The element involves ritualistic performances, including praying for good harvests, safety from disasters and the end of plagues. Some forms of the element are performed as part of festivals. The bearers and practitioners of the element are the local communities associated with the forty-one ritual dances. The knowledge and skills of the element are transmitted non-formally and formally. Older practitioners transmit the element to younger generations, while local schools provide classes to students, in cooperation with local preservation associations. The element promotes cohesive networking of people of all ages and genders and nurtures a sense of belonging to the community. In times of crisis, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, the element provides a sense of security and identity to help community members to overcome hardships.

R.2:   At the local level, inscription of the element will raise awareness about the fact that annual ritual dances practiced by communities are important elements of intangible cultural heritage. This will in turn have a positive effect on the people's motivation for transmitting local culture to the next generations. At the national level, inscription will help Japanese people become aware of other ritual dances of different categories. At the international level, inscription will help people around the world understand that songs and dances that exist in the everyday lives of common people are also elements of intangible cultural heritage. Inscription will also make communities worldwide aware of Furyu-odori ritual dances, encouraging international dialogue and exchange. The splendour of the costumes and the distinctiveness of the music demonstrate the human creativity that emerged from ancestral traditions.

R.3:   The nomination file demonstrates that the community has conducted various past and current safeguarding activities such as research, documentation, promotion and the organization of festivals. The State Party supports the safeguarding of the element by providing legal protection and recognition, along with subsidies for the safeguarding measures. The proposed safeguarding measures include monitoring for the unintended consequences of inscription, which will be coordinated by the National Associations. There will be opportunities for local preservation associations to voice concerns and these associations will play an important role in monitoring the element as well. Other proposed safeguarding measures include efforts to promote transmission through formal or non-formal education, safeguarding and protection, documentation and research, and promotion and enhancement of the element.

R.4:   The file explains the process of preparing the nomination file and how it involved the participation of communities. The communities concerned participated in many discussions which led to the establishment of the National Associations for the Safeguarding and Promotion of Furyu Folk Ritual Dances in 2019. The National Associations comprise members of all ages and genders who came together to prepare the nomination file, with the support of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and local governments. The communities concerned were informed of the purpose and nature of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity based on the 2003 Convention. They were also informed of the possible positive and negative effects arising from an inscription and the importance of safeguarding and monitoring the element after inscription. Consent forms were submitted from the National Associations for the safeguarding and Promotion of Furyu Folk Ritual Dances and the respective local preservation associations safeguarding the forty-one ritual dances throughout Japan. The cities, towns and villages where these preservation associations are located also submitted consent forms.

R.5:   The element is listed on the Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Japan, which is maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Government of Japan and updated once a year. The Agency for Cultural Affairs conducts an annual survey of folk cultural properties, which involves experts of fields related to folklore studies. The Agency for Cultural Affairs also receives regular updates from the local communities concerned and revises the information in the inventory as necessary.

  1. Decides to inscribe Furyu-odori, ritual dances imbued with people's hopes and prayers on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Further takes note that the present nomination is the inscription on an extended basis at the national level which incorporates and replaces ‘Chakkirako’ (No.00274), inscribed on the Representative List in 2009;
  3. Commends the State Party on the preparation of a well-elaborated file that features strong participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned in the overall nomination process.