Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Hitachi Furyumono
The Hitachi Furyumono is a parade held during the cherry blossom festival each April in Hitachi City on the Pacific coast in the middle of Japan, and once every seven years in May during the Great Festival at the local Kamine Shrine. Each of four local communities – Kita-machi, Higashi-machi, Nishi-machi and Hom-machi – creates a parade float that serves at once as a space to worship a deity and as a multi-level puppet theatre. Three to five masters manipulate the ropes controlling a single puppet as musicians provide accompaniment to the elaborate show. A community event administered by the general agreement of the local residents, the Hitachi Furyumono involves everyone who wishes to participate. The art of the puppeteer, however, is passed within families strictly from father to eldest son as a secret process, which has preserved an ancient repertoire of techniques and stories supposedly originating with a travelling entertainer around the eighteenth century. For the annual cherry blossom festival, one community presents its float each year, but for the Great Festival at Kamine Shrine, the four communities compete to see whose puppeteers are the most skilled and which can provide the best hospitality to the local deity.
Decision 4.COM 13.52
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: Hitachi Furyumono has been transmitted by four local communities and their puppeteers, and contributes to providing them with a sense of identity and stimulating their mutual understanding and cooperation, in particular through the preparation and enactment of the festivities;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List would raise awareness about the significance of intangible cultural heritage within its communities, and contribute to reinforcing visibility and transmission of similar festivals at the national and international levels;
- R.3: Local authorities and civil associations have undertaken several safeguarding efforts such as transmitting the puppetry knowledge and skills to future generations, collaborating with the national government that has subsidized projects, to train puppet manipulators and restore and procure equipment;
- R.4: The element was nominated through dialogue with experts in intangible cultural heritage and demonstrates the free, prior and informed consent of the communities;
- R.5: The element is inscribed as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property on the national inventory maintained by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
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