Oku-noto no Aenokoto
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Oku-noto no Aenokoto
Oku-noto no Aenokoto is an agricultural ritual transmitted from generation to generation by the rice farmers of the Noto Peninsula, which projects from Ishikawa prefecture in the centre of Japan’s main island, Honshu. The twice-yearly ceremony is unique among the harvest rituals of Asia in that the master of the house invites the deity of the rice field into his home, behaving as though the invisible spirit were really present. In December, to express gratitude for the harvest, the farmer draws a bath and begins to prepare a meal, summoning the deity from the field with the sound of pounding rice cakes. Welcoming his guest in formal clothes with a lantern, the farmer allows it to rest in a guest room before assisting it with a bath and offering a meal of rice, beans and fish. Because the deity is said to have poor eyesight, the host describes the meal as he serves it. A similar ritual is performed before planting in February to ensure an abundant harvest. Performed with individual variations throughout the region, Oku-noto no Aenokoto reflects the everyday culture of the Japanese, who have cultivated rice since ancient times, and serves as a marker of identity for the area’s farmers.
Decision 4.COM 13.55
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: Oku-noto no Aenokoto is a unique agricultural ritual through which human creativity is well illustrated and people in the local community confirm their identity and continuity;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List would contribute to raising public awareness of intangible cultural heritage and enhancing transmission of the agricultural ritual, while increasing visibility and understanding of other agricultural rituals transmitted throughout the world;
- R.3: A variety of safeguarding measures, such as organizing seminars for transmission and promotion, publishing junior high school guidebooks, and producing documentary films, have been and will be carried out together by the Association for the Preservation of Oku-noto no Aenokoto and local and national authorities;
- R.4: The nomination includes evidence of the free, prior and informed consent of the community concerned;
- 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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